There was no way I was going to forgive her. She didn’t deserve forgiveness-she deserved to pay for what she’d done.
The thing is, “she” is me, and that’s exactly how I felt for years. I had no problem forgiving others, just myself. Psalms 103:12 says “As far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us.” But, I chose to believe that didn’t apply to me-that I needed to serve a sentence of shame before I could be exonerated from my guilt. Further, I was certain that my sins not only rendered me unworthy to receive God’s forgiveness but also His love.
Have you found that often the most difficult person to forgive is yourself? That was definitely the case for me, until God literally spoke into my situation.
I attended a worship service where I heard the story of a man’s miraculous physical healing. What struck me, though, wasn’t his physical healing, but the freedom he experienced from feelings of unworthiness. Following the man’s testimony, a pastor invited anyone who felt burdened by unworthiness to stand and receive prayer. Despite the pride that begged me to remain seated, I rose to my feet. And in the silent moments that followed the prayer, God spoke to me for the first time.
He said: Christa, I love you. I forgave you a long time ago, and you need to forgive yourself.
I was literally undone. Instantly freed from the tremendous weight of shame that would have eventually crushed me. I was overcome-with love.
Until that moment, I didn’t realize how much I’d allowed unforgiveness to affect my life and my relationships. I’d invited Christ into my heart but held God’s grace at arm’s length, refusing to accept it—unintentionally saying that Christ’s death was enough to vindicate others, but not me. Released from that burden, I was able to move forward, truly love myself, others, and God, and finally experience the freedom for which Christ died.
It’s not as though forgiveness erased the memory of my shameful sins, but it eradicated the oppressive power those memories had over me. Before, they were scars I desperately tried to cover. Now they’re scars I proudly point to and say, “Look what God has done in my life.”
Don’t allow unforgiveness to control you any longer. As you learn to live wholly loved, remember that God wants to do the same transformative work in you, turning your scars into a beautiful story of His love.
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