I generally struggled with forgiveness in my life. It wasn’t always obvious though. I carried around a smile, which convinced me that I forgave easily after being hurt and disappointed.
It wasn’t until I was faced with a situation of having to forgive someone that really wounded me that I realized how much of a struggle it was. I resisted going through the process because I felt justified in remaining angry- I was the victim after all. When God encouraged me to forgive I questioned His loyalty and love, assuming that He was supposed to fight for me and I felt entitled to seeing the person who offended me suffer. Little did I know that forgiveness is not a “tit for tat” kind of situation.
With the LORD on my side, I have come a long way with the journey of forgiveness. I have learned to forgive even when people have not asked for forgiveness. It cleanses my heart and breaks off stagnancy- it isn’t easy but it is necessary because people are sometimes blinded to their actions. It is not yet a natural reaction but I choose to give it as a gift because I know it honours God and blesses me and others- whether they are aware or not. I am truly grateful to God for allowing me to partake in a principle that brings life to dead situations, it is hard but certainly worth it.
In all the forgiving I did, I missed the most critical part of it all: my role in the situation! I totally separated myself and focused more on the wounds that were caused by other people. I camped in that painful and miserable place until the LORD helped me move. As forgiveness of others started to become a regular habit, I got to realize just how much I have wounded myself and others by allowing the wrong situations and people to be part of my life. I operated from a place of brokenness for a long time and would attract situations that fed this unhealthy monster within. There were alot of cycles I couldn’t understand or remove. I had to come to the realization that a lot of things start and end with me. Sometimes as an individual you must get really exhausted with the cycles in order to stop entertaining them. That’s where I got to. I desired a different lifestyle and wanted to experience healthy relationships, especially with myself. With the help and guidance of the Holy Spirit, I realized just how much I lacked in focusing on myself. I could tick all the boxes of what I had done for other people but barely matched what I was supposed to do for myself. The bible tells us to love others as we love ourselves- both are equally important. I neglected myself and watched my life pass by as I gave other people more access than I should have. I had to repent and change my ways recognizing that I also matter and I am accountable for the quality of life that I live. Facing myself in the mirror revealed the level of internal conflict within me, I had to make prompt changes if I truly wanted a healthy mental space.
That process started with forgiving myself. If you thought forgiving others was tough, this was even harder. It almost felt like I was starting afresh with the journey of forgiveness. I think I had failed myself so much in the past that I escaped my life and did not want to take accountability or make decisions as I should have, this was toxic. When all was said and done, I was still left to deal with the baggage I carried for years.
Thank God for the gift of forgiveness!
As I learned to forgive others, I learned to forgive myself too. I can now admit my weaknesses and not take them in the most critical way but allow myself to accept the situation and assess how I can improve myself and behaviour. Making mistakes is part of life, I had to constantly remind myself that it is totally okay not to be perfect. There were and still are a lot of goals I have not achieved in life, I am not where I thought I would be. The dreams I had as a child slowly faded away as I realized that I am far from achieving them. This brought a lot of resentment and judgement within myself. Being harsh with oneself doesn’t amount to anything good, instead it can lead to a place of depression and constant anxiety. It becomes easier to live in a “dream-like” state so that you avoid being present in uncomfortable situations. As you can imagine, this robs you of the present and you never enjoy your life. I just could not deal with this type of life anymore, I became hungry for change and a quality life.
This process helped me to discover that I am a work in progress. That brought freedom because I removed the unrealistic expectations of who I should be as an individual and rather focused on enhancing my current strengths. I had to forgive myself over and over again. I forgave myself for the past decisions or lack of, I forgive myself regularly even for the little things that I do to compromise who I am. I no longer bend my back unnecessarily- I am in a healthy mindset that either says “you can help this person, be a blessing or you don’t have the capacity to do this, respect them and yourself enough to say no”. When you operate from this place, you are constantly cleansed from unnecessary bitterness that is caused by stretching yourself too thin. We are not called to be saviours to people but to introduce them to a Saviour that loves them and can carry all their problems, we just play a small part in being a blessing when we have the capacity to do so.
Forgiveness of self is a form of cleansing, when you are cleansed, you have a fresh perspective and a sweet fragrance that allows you to be a blessing to your family and community. The ability to forgive yourself accelerates your healing and brings growth. It is necessary to allow this to be part of your daily walk. Set boundaries and allow the Holy Spirit to guide your relationships, He will advise when you are to go an extra mile and when you should allow people to discover things for themselves. It is so vital to live in harmony with ourselves, we produce better results when we do.
“Now whom you forgive anything, I also forgive. For if indeed I have forgiven anything, I have forgiven that one for your sakes in the presence of Christ” -2 Corinthians 2: 10
You are blessed, with love