Monday, October 24, 2011

The One Person I Can't Forgive

In my forty-some years on this earth, I have encountered a lot of people for whom I’ve had to forgive much. People who have mentally, physically, sexually, and emotionally abused me. Bullies from my childhood and those whom I know and call family and friends. From being called names to being degraded and physically harmed by a man who vowed to love and cherish me all the days of my life. From the best friend in high school who slept with my boyfriend (and let’s not forget the boyfriend who slept with my best friend) to the neighbor who stalked me for six months until the day he attacked me in my own home. From the husband who left me for a 17-year old girl to the God who let my son die in a horrible car accident. Yet all of these people, with God’s grace, I have been able to wholeheartedly forgive and pray for. I pray they have the peace and hope God has given me. As for God himself – I have come to love him deeply and rely on his will no matter what.

However this week I realized that there is one person I have never been able to fully forgive. There are still moments in my life when I hold this person accountable for every misspoken word, every neglect, and every failure, everything wrong she's ever done. Who is this poor woman? It's me.

Why is it so easy to find it within myself to forgive all those who have wronged me, who have hurt me and yet, I can’t seem to finally and wholeheartedly forgive myself? Am I so wretched a person that it is easier to forgive the whole world, yet not me?

In my intellect, I know that the answer is no. The Bible tells us we are all sinners, equally sinful in the sight of God’s holiness. So why is it so much easier to forgive everyone else's unholiness than to forgive my own? Jesus died on the cross for my sins – for my sinfulness in its entirety which means that there is nothing in me or my past that has not been forgiven and forgotten by God. To hold myself accountable for my sins after they have been forgiven is like saying that Jesus’ sacrifice wasn’t enough. I can’t possibly make the argument that Jesus’ death, Jesus the perfect holy Son of God who gave his life for mine, is somehow insufficient to pay the price for my sin. If the God who loves and created me, redeemed me and is making me a new creation in him has forgiven me, who am I to withhold forgiveness? And yet, I still want to hold myself accountable, to pay for it somehow, someway to make up for my wrongs.

I see no way out of this endless circle of guilt I’ve wrapped myself up in except to give it to God. To forgive myself again and to hand over again to Jesus the unforgiveness, the pride, the self-righteous judgementalism I hold against myself. I hope this time, my heart learns beyond doubt what my head already knows – I am now and always will be a forgiven beloved child of the living God.
About the pictures:
Parkwood Presbyterian Church (May 2011)

1 comment:

Common Household Mom said...

Here's my view. Don't discount that intellectual answer. Many seem to think that the intellectual answer isn't real, but the 'feeling' answer is real. I think it can also be the other way around.