Last summer I was up at a camp called Hume Lake. At Hume it is so easy to feel close to God, his beautiful creation is all around and there are believers everywhere to lean on and talk to! It is easily one of my favorite places in the world. We go every year with our youth group and take about 50 students with us. This year I was blessed with an amazing co-counselor and 7 awesome Jr high girls. On the very first night, I thought it was interesting how deep our conversations got. We asked them why they came up to Hume Lake and most of them had a variation of the same answer “To get close to God”. But when we asked what was holding them back from getting close to him before, we got a very honest answer from our camper. “Well I just don’t think God can forgive me for my past.” Now that got me thinking, we know God has forgiven us that is the purpose of the gospel! When we become Christians we accept Christ into our lives we confess our sins and we are FORGIVEN! So why do we struggle so much with feeling not good enough or thinking God won’t forgive us? I asked her why she thought that and an even more honest answer came out, “Well I guess because I have a hard time forgiving myself.” BINGO there it is, the answer to why I even feel like sometimes God could not or would not forgive me, coming out of the mouth of a 12 year old. Because I’ve never forgiven myself for my past mistakes. So how do we go about being able to forgive ourselves?
First we need to make sure we are right with God, although he has already forgiven us we still need to ask! We are his children and he wants a relationship with us but a relationship is not a one way street. We can’t just keep on sinning knowing he’ll forgive us and never confessing to him that we know what we’ve done is wrong and we don’t want to do it anymore.
Second we need to get right with anyone we might have affected in our sin. If you hurt anyone, lied cheated stole etc. you have to make it right with that person. “Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to them; then come and offer your gift.” Mathew 5: 23-24. They don’t even need to forgive you but it is your job to at least extend the apology. How can we forgive ourselves if we know there is someone out there hurt by our actions?
Lastly we need to forgive ourselves. So simple to say and so hard to do, this sometimes needs to be a daily act. Out loud in your bedroom or where you feel the most comfortable say “I forgive myself”. There is so much power in words, they can tear people down and can lift them up and we have to realize it’s not just other people our words can do that to but our words even affect ourselves. I believe hearing yourself say out loud “I forgive myself” can help so much. Sometimes it might not just be a one-time deal, you might say it and still feel the same way but make it a daily practice. Forgive yourself daily, and use more positive words when you speak to yourself. I’ve heard it said before, if you spoke to anyone else the way you speak to and about yourself you probably wouldn’t have any friends. Extend grace to yourself, know you are human and make mistakes. ‘Then Jesus stood up again and said to the woman, “Where are your accusers? Didn’t even one of them condemn you?” “No, Lord,” she said. And Jesus said, “Neither do I. Go and sin no more.”’ John 8: 10-11