“Just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you.”
A woman came to confess her sins before a priest.The priest noticed that she had been there before and he quietly waited for the woman to unload her burden for she looked so distraught.
She said that what she had confessed was the same sin the last time she was there but she couldn’t get rid of the guilt in her heart and head.
“My daughter,” the priest said. “God has forgiven you,” he assured her. “Now go and forgive yourself.”
I can relate to this woman. I used to be very hard on myself. I beat myself up emotionally and mentally whenever I failed or committed a mistake. I felt guilty and upset at myself at the littlest things, for not doing the things I’m supposed to do, when I thought wrongly, or when I failed other people’s expectations of me.
It was easy for me to forgive others but not myself.
Be Kind to Yourself
At one of the talks at the Feast, the weekly gathering of the light of Jesus Family, the attendees were asked to identify three people who have hurt them, or whom they have hurt and whom they would like to ask forgiveness from.
As I was thinking of the last name, I realized that the space belonged to me. I needed to also forgive myself for my weaknesses and mistakes and for beating myself up unnecessarily. I had been unkind to myself and had hurt myself in the process.
Jesus commanded us to love others as we love ourselves. I believe that another addendum to this life-giving rule is to also forgive others as you forgive yourself. If you are able to be kind to yourself, you will o er the same kindness to the people around you. If you accept your own weaknesses and forgive yourself, you would also be more understanding of other people’s weaknesses and forgive them, too.
Forgiveness must also be given to one’s self. like learning to love one’s self, it starts with God. When we receive God’s forgiveness, we learn to forgive ourselves. We receive God’s mercy and o er it to ourselves and others.
Who Will You Listen To? Trust in God’s Mercy
In facing my own weaknesses, I have come to distinguish between the voice of the holy Spirit and that of the devil after I’ve fallen into sin. e holy Spirit convicts us when we do something wrong. We know we did something wrong because we feel guilty. But the holy Spirit convicts us of our sin to lead us to repentance. he o ers us healing from our sins through confession where we receive God’s forgiveness and grace to help us change and do better. e holy Spirit’s conviction leads us to repentance and transformation.
The voice of the devil, on the contrary, condemns. Even when we have confessed our sin, the devil still makes us feel guilty, making us focus on our weakness and failure rather than on the love and mercy of God.
He reminds us of what we’ve done wrong, and in reminding us and in bringing us down, we do not have the strength to do better. We dwell on the past and not on the new beginning set before us.
Like the woman in our story, people who have committed a grave sin and confessed it still feel un-peaceful because they beat themselves up for what they’ve done. ey cannot let go of the guilt and trust in God’s love. But we need to remember to look towards God’s love and not focus on our weakness.
The problem is we listen to the voice of the devil that condemns. We believe him when he says that there is no forgiveness for what we’ve done or that we are hopeless and cannot change. at’s a lie. Is this what God wants for his children? he has come to set us free. he wants us to be free. he wants us to live a life of joy and peace. Guilt has an expiration date; it should lead us to repentance, to that healing grace. As we receive God’s forgiveness, we are set free to start again with God by our side.
The truth is, when God forgives, it’s total. “As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us” (psalm 103:12). God doesn’t keep a record of wrongs. he doesn’t take note of our sins to remind us again and again.
That is the devil’s tactic. God will never do that to us. he loves us too much to allow us to stay mired in guilt and sin. he died for us so that we could be free.
To cling to guilt when the lord has already forgiven us is not from God. e gift of the sacrament of reconciliation is peace. It is peace that Jesus offers and the chance to do better each day with the help of his grace. let go and let God. trust in his mercy and his love.
To refuse to forgive one’s self is reject the love that God offers. is can be out of pride or unhealed wounds that cause us to feel unworthy of this mercy. And this is why we need God’s grace all the more.
Forgive Yourself as God Forgives You
Yes, this unmerited favor called grace is what we need to humbly accept. It takes humility to admit to the lord that we need his help for the things we cannot change in ourselves. So we surrender it to him and allow him to change us as we cooperate with his grace.
“Don’t be too hard on yourself ” is an advice worth listening to, especially for people who beat themselves up needlessly when they do something wrong or fall short of their or other people’s expectations.
When we sin, it doesn’t help us to run away from God because of guilt. But like a trusting child, we must run back towards God, admit our faults, ask for forgiveness and receive the grace to begin again. he is always ready to help and heal us.
May we forgive others and ourselves as God forgives us and keep moving forward with God’s grace. Forget the past and look forward to doing good and becoming better each day.
We have hope “because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness” (Lamentation 3:22-23).
Pearls of Truth
“But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead.” (Philippians 3:13)
“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9)
“Come now, and let us reason together,” says the lord: “ Though your sins are as scarlet, they will be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they will be like wool.” (Isaiah 1:18)
Dearest lord, Your love is greater than our sins and weaknesses. Thank You for forgiving us always. Sometimes we find it hard to forgive ourselves. heal us, lord. help us receive Your forgiveness and o er the same forgiveness to others. help us to forgive ourselves. Amen.
When you make a mistake, choose to forgive yourself quickly. Make a decision to o er the same forgiveness to yourself that you give to others. Be kind to yourself. If there is a sin and guilt that you are still carrying, confess it to a priest and let it go. Believe that God has forgiven you for he loves you very much.
*This excerpt was taken from Love Yourself As God Loves You by Marjorie Duterte.
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