Forgiveness – Part 2 of 2

In my previous blog post I talked about the importance of forgiving others and even shared a personal experience I had with someone I worked with.  In this blog post I want to address the importance of forgiving ourselves and how the power of forgiveness can be healing.

Have you ever done something or said something to someone that you regret with all your heart? I know I have.  In fact I think we all have at some point.  While it can be difficult to forgive others, it is just as difficult to forgive ourselves.  I can recall many years ago when I was much younger how my mother and I use to argue about my wanting more independence.  I was a young adult still living at home and feeling all grown up and like I ruled the world.  I failed to realize there were still boundaries to be followed and if I was going to be out late, I still needed to let my parents know and abide by their rules. Many a arguments ensued over my battle for independence. I wasn’t an out-of-control daughter as I didn’t smoke, drink or do drugs.  We never had knock-down drag-out fights.  But I was very insensitive and sometimes used hurtful words.  My poor mother was merely doing her job as she enforced the rules and stood her ground each time we argued.   I’m ashamed to say I made my mother cry many times.  I apologized to her for those rough moments but a more sincere and heartfelt apology was made again shortly after becoming a mother myself.  Only then did I truly understand the depth of her love for me.  Only then did I understand that a mother’s job is to not only love but to love ferociously, to worry, protect and guide, regardless of whether that love is returned.

While I totally get it now and have apologized to my precious mother for all the grief I put her through, I didn’t quite forgive myself for my selfishness and stupidity.  Looking back I can’t believe I disrespected my mother the way I had.   Now that I am a parent I look back on my earlier years and just cringe over my stupid behavior and at times feel the guilt gnaw away at my heart. I finally had to learn to forgive myself and really appreciate the fact that she was my role model and the way I parent today is a mirrored version of how I was brought up.

Believe me there are other moments that I can recall that I am definitely not proud of and can say that I’ve brought it to the Lord and received forgiveness. Forgiving myself is just as important too.  Here is why: When we receive the Lord’s forgiveness we are automatically released from the bondage of sin.  But often we choose to wallow in it and act as though we are not free from sin and from the guilt.   We can either accept the fact that we are forgiven in Christ or believe the devil’s lie that we are still guilty.   When our former sins come to mind it is like we are choosing to dwell upon them – resulting in feelings of guilt. It is also  like we are reliving the sin and refusing to let it go instead of remembering that our awesome God forgave us and then thank and praise Him for it and rejoice in His grace!

Sometimes the Lord will turn a difficult situation around or use an event (such as a betrayal) to reveal His plan for you.  Such was the case in the book of Genesis when Joseph revealed himself to his brothers who sold him into slavery. When his brothers realized that Joseph was a respected member of Pharaoh’s court they felt shame and were guilt-ridden for selling their young brother into slavery.  But after all the pain and grief Joseph endured he could now see that God’s hand was on him the whole time so that His plan would come to pass and while he was able to forgive his brothers for their cruelty, he encouraged them to forgive themselves. ~

(Genesis 45: 5)    ~    But now, do not therefore be grieved or angry with yourselves because you sold me here; for God sent me before you to preserve life. 

God’s plan was at work all along.  He allowed Joseph to be taken as a slave because His plan for him was to save his brother’s lives during the famine.  His brother’s were so grieved by what they had done but Joseph urged them to let it go and to only see the goodness that came from it.

Whatever sin or feelings of guilt the Lord has forgiven you for, please know that by your lack of self-forgiveness you are believing the devil’s lie that you are still guilty.  Now I know that there are a multitude of things some of us have committed that we cannot even fathom ever forgiving ourselves for. Some of you may even have a history of the following:

  • Drug use
  • Stealing
  • Physical, verbal, sexual or emotionally abusive towards others
  • Bullying
  • Abortion
  • Cheating
  • Causing discord in family

I know these are but a few scenarios you may have faced in your life or perhaps facing at this very moment and may even be serving time for some of these offenses. Please know that if you go to the Lord with a sincere heart and repent of your sins, He will forgive you. You must then find the strength to forgive yourself. Pray over it and plead with the Lord to fill you with His peace and to ease your heavy heart.  There is a certain peace you gain from releasing all your heavy burdens and feelings of guilt to the Lord and trusting Him to wash away your sins.  I think of the song “Nothing but the Blood”.  It goes like this…

What can wash away my sin?
Nothing but the blood of Jesus;
What can make me whole again?
Nothing but the blood of Jesus.
Oh! precious is the flow
That makes me white as snow;
No other fount I know,
Nothing but the blood of Jesus.
For my pardon, this I see,
Nothing but the blood of Jesus;
For my cleansing this my plea,
Nothing but the blood of Jesus.
Nothing can for sin atone,
Nothing but the blood of Jesus;
Naught of good that I have done,
Nothing but the blood of Jesus.
This is all my hope and peace,
Nothing but the blood of Jesus;
This is all my righteousness,
Nothing but the blood of Jesus.
Now by this I’ll overcome—
Nothing but the blood of Jesus;
Now by this I’ll reach my home—
Nothing but the blood of Jesus.
Glory! Glory! This I sing—
Nothing but the blood of Jesus,
All my praise for this I bring—
Nothing but the blood of Jesus.

Oh how I love this song! Each time I hear it sung in church I look around and see my fellow church members singing with eyes closed, tears streaming down their faces and just a look of redemption, a washing away of years of heartache, and a look of relief as if just passing the baton over to the next runner in a relay race except in this case the baton which represents the sins committed and years of anguish associated with it, is passed on to the Father who will gladly take the baton from you and give you rest.  We all carry heavy burdens and dwell upon them like there is no tomorrow, but I can tell you with all certainty that you will have very little peace in your spirit until you can find the strength to forgive yourself and to trust God to use you for His glory and His purpose.

Healing

As important as it is to forgive yourself and handing your burdens over to the Lord, it is also important to forgive yourself and allow healing to take place within you. Whether it be healing of a broken heart, broken spirit, or illness.

Have you ever felt such excitement in sharing wonderful news with someone that you can hardly find the words to speak or you become tongue-tied and your words come out like mumbo-jumbo? Well it is with no exaggeration when I say that I am feeling that way right now because I am excited to share with you how forgiveness is not only essential in your walk with the Lord but is also very healing.

I read recently that unforgiveness is classified in medical books as a disease.  Who knew!   As I researched further and further I was amazed as well as impressed by the approach some medical professionals have taken in treating several of their patients with cancer or other diseases.  I never knew that one’s unwillingness to forgive can actually hinder someone’s reaction to treatment or their willingness to pursue treatment or their recovery from an illness.  It makes sense though, don’t you think? Have you ever been so angry with yourself or with someone that you literally feel your health deteriorate right before your eyes? Maybe you feel your heart rate pick up, a sudden bout of stomach pains or a bad headache?  I know this has happened to me more times than I can count.  I had a friend once who got into a tiff with her boss and that night she found herself seeing a doctor in urgent care because suddenly came down with a nasty cold and her arm was hurting and she felt her health deteriorating because of the immense stress she was under. What I found interesting was that it was a pattern. Whenever she was angry or stressed about something, bam! she got sick almost instantly. Her immune system would take a dive and she would just have to ride things out.  At the time we were in our early 20’s and I just didn’t know enough or wasn’t drenched enough in the Word to realize that her anger, frustrations and resentment towards certain individuals were what was making her sick.  Had I known and been more connected to God I would have prayed over her more, counseled her, and shared the power of forgiveness and the importance of letting God take over so that she could feel peace and wellness.  She took things to heart and allowed herself to be beaten down by life’s challenges.

The point I’m trying to make is that holding on to anger and hatred towards oneself and others can have a negative impact, health wise.  People don’t know this and I surely didn’t until I came across a news article on the subject and started doing my own research and what I have learned is this – The burdens that we carry will surely weigh us down in life and not only bring us to the lowest of lows but can very well contribute to a slow-to-react immune system, unending health challenges and a slowness in healing and recovery from illnesses.

The following is a snippet from an article I found which I will reference the link down below at the end of this blog post. It holds so much truth and I hope it gives you something to think about:

~  a recent study concluded that “chronic unforgiveness causes stress. Every time people think of their transgressor, their body responds.” One doctor explained that unforgiveness leads to an increase in blood pressure and heart rate. It affects the immune and cardiovascular systems. But forgiveness changes everything. ~

We must remember that God’s pardoning of our sins obligates us to forgive others.  And when we do forgive our transgressors, a weight is lifted allowing the Lord to work in us and to lift all anger, hate, confusion and if it’s His will, even illness.  Sadly most people choose the bitter path of unforgiveness thus resulting in a life lived in utter resentment and poor health.  I heard someone once say that “hate is like a cancer, it grows and grows”.  Unfortunately it’s true, whether people choose to believe it or not. Hate and anger causes stress ultimately affecting our immune system and our body’s ability fight off illness.

Forgiveness is an internal decision.  Something you have to pray about and really look to the Lord for peace and understanding.  I can truly say from experience that when you forgive someone, truly truly forgive and never speak again of the offense that was committed you feel much lighter and free and even a sense of release.  This is a direct result of surrendering all negativity, all hate, anger, and bitterness to God. Think of a child who hands their broken toy to their parent with a request for them to fix it and to make the brokenness go away.  There is a trust there and a comfort in knowing that what is broken can be fixed, mended or made stronger and better. The Lord can do the same for you and me.

I pray that you’ve found this blog post helpful and thought provoking and perhaps it has opened your heart and mind to the idea that maybe it’s time to forgive yourself or that someone in your life who has hurt you so badly.   Prayer can move mountains and change hearts as well as any situation you may be facing today with your health or other area in your life.

Below are a couple of links to articles I came across while writing this post. I’ve found them helpful and I hope you do to. God bless and if you feel the need to ask for prayer, please, please do not hesitate to message me or post a prayer request in the comments section. I will be more than happy to pray for you and your needs. Peace.

The Deadly Consequences of Unforgiveness

Forgiveness and Healing

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