What happens and what do you do when it's really hard to forgive and guilt is poured on like chains?
How God tells us to forgive others:
- doen't depend on someone saying I'm sorry
- doesn't depend on how someone may act in the next situation (we often do the same offenses over and over)
- doesn't even depend on the person who offended knowing what they did wrong
- doesn't depend of them doing it again and again.
When I look at his model of forgiveness I am ashamed at how pitiful my attempts of forgiveness are.
The hardest to forgive!
I can honestly say the person I had hardest time to forgive was a lier. She had committed adultery by sleeping with a married man. She had had sex before she was married. She was very prideful. She had a temper and often was angry. She did things for the wrong reasons. She put herself first. She cared more about looking good than being good. She looked to be the best daughter in the world but was secretly rebellious and she lead others to sin.
There were a few good things about her but those things didn't really matter with all the sin in her life.
Before you think I am giving the person the short end of the stick, I have a confession, I was this girl.
The Struggle to Forgive and Guilt!
We know that to ask forgiveness from God requires 5 things.
- Belief in God
- trying to live a changed life
But what no one talks about is sometimes when you confess you still feel guilty. And when you start to add all that guilt over and over on top of itself bad things happen.
Guilt lead me to Suicide. I had made a mess out of my life. Even though I had confessed my sins to God I did not understand how I could get forgiveness when I did the same things over and over again.
I thought all Christians would feel forgiven. That I would be all “happy happy joy joy”. I thought it meant that I would stop sinning entirely.
Because, I didn't know his word, Satan used the guilt against me. Sure I knew all the bible stories, David and Goliath and such. However, I was never taught about the inward struggle. Remember this when you teach your children or you are leading someone to Christ. You can do great damage if you fail to mention the struggle.
The struggle by paul is summed up as:
Romans 7:15 I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.
Knowing Gods word will help you in your struggle to forgive yourself.
Sin hurts not just us!
Often times we see sin as black and white and that it only hurts or effects us. As an adult I have come to realize that sin can have long term affects.
So part of the struggle to forgive myself came at looking at long term effects.
I had sex with someone when I was younger and I was his first. I introduced him to sex. Now that man became “sex crazy”, he left his wife was sleeping with hookers. Did I feel guilt for introducing him to sex. Yes I did.
Sometimes you started it all. You didn't see this ever happening but you have to confess you had some part in the effects of your sin on another life. When I look at his poor wife and child I have cried out to God I am so so sorry. This was not your plan for his life or his families life.
So once again I have new guilt for an old sin. Because I am a forgiven child of God. I confess my sin, repent and try and live a Godly life.
Confession to God helps with forgiving yourself.
Sometimes the feeling of guilt doesn't go away.
I had to make amends to those I hurt. Remember this is not to earn forgiveness but to make yourself sure of your forgiveness, that is a big difference.
I have long since apologized to people and tracked people down on facebook just to say I'm sorry, what I did was wrong, and ask for forgiveness. Did I believe that God forgave me yes. However, I still had a hard time living with myself and that I why I needed to make amends.
Making Amends will help you to forgive yourself.
Confess to others!
God has also given us another option to help us in our struggle to feel forgiven.
That option is to confess to each other. Often we attempt to separate ourselves from each other by hiding our past because we are afraid that if they new the real me that would reject me or treat me differently. It has taken a long time for me to get to the point of sharing my past with people. Very few people know my history or my testimony because I felt too guilty to share it.
Over the last 2 years, I have finally gotten past enough of the guilt to share it with adults.
To confess my guilt before adults is hard for me. I want you to see me as who I really am but I'm afraid of offending, afraid it will be used against me, afraid of how you will see me, and I'm afraid of disappointing your image of me.
Often times we hide our guilt instead of confessing it for these reasons. I hate being vulnerable but I hate being hurt much more. A friend can hurt me more than a stranger.
Summing it all up!
God tells us how to get to the point of forgiving ourselves.
- Bible plan of salvation
- Confession to God
- Make amends
- confess our sins to each other
These are not simply suggestions these are commands for our benefit.
Let me share some scripture with you.
These scripture tell of the hearers response to a confession. Often times we are too surprised by the sin or the confession to do much more than stare, offer advice and gossip about it but the bible is clear on this subject too.
John 20:23 If you forgive anyone his sins, they are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven."
As saints of Christ (not ones without sin) we can offer forgiveness to those who bear guilt of sin. How? Often times it is just as simple as praying and saying I forgive you.
James 5:16 Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.
Luke 17:3 So watch yourselves. "If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him.
2 Corth 2:10 If you forgive anyone, I also forgive him. And what I have forgiven--if there was anything to forgive--I have forgiven in the sight of Christ for your sake,
Luke 7:14 If he sins against you seven times in a day, and seven times comes back to you and says, 'I repent,' forgive him."
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