Why Can't You Forgive Yourself?

Ever had a hard time forgiving yourself for something you've done? People you've allowed in your life for too long? How difficult you make life for people? Have you ever gotten trapped by thoughts of how much better off your world would be without you? Do you overall, beat yourself up for choices made, mistakes committed, and failures accomplished? I have. I did constantly.

I don't anymore. A few months ago, a trusted friend took me by the hand and walked me to the places where I'd allowed people's words spoken over my life to devastate my ability to let go. I couldn't let go of things said to me that diminished who I am. I couldn't break out of a cycle of punishing myself for mistakes I'd made, poor choices in life, etc. I give heavy weight to words spoken over me, to people's opinion of me. I also was pointed to this self-mortification and self-punishment I applied to my life. And it made me miserable.

Then the hammer fell. Why can I not forgive myself? Why do I inflict such condemnation and punishment on myself? Why can I not accept that God's grace and forgiveness atones my mistakes? Why can I not see myself as the child of God, beloved and given a great gift of mercy and grace? One word. Arrogance.

It is sheer arrogance to not forgive yourself, to punish yourself for mistakes and failures. Why? Because God is a just God. He metes out divine Justice. However, He also metes out divine grace, pardon and grace. His divine wrath was met on Calvary in one act of sheer self-lessness and love. This allows for me to stand before God in all of my failure and sin and be granted forgiveness.

So when scripture says in I John that our sin is appropriated on the cross, when it states that confession leads to forgiveness and purification, when Romans states that we no longer live under condemnation...that is God - Divine Judge, King and Holy Justice Giver - granting pardon. Full pardon. To me. And when I don't give myself space to accept and dwell under that pardon - what I tell God, functionally, is that He isn't good enough at His job. He doesn't know what he's doing because He doesn't know well enough how bad I am, what I did wrong. Or it states that I am somehow some exception to God's choice to forgive me. Wrong. It is Arrogance.

How in the world is it ok to tell God that he doesn't know me well enough to grant me pardon? He made me, for crying out loud. He knows me better than I do. Of course he knows my failure, my unclean thoughts and heart. Romans 8:1 is a command that we do not condemn ANY child of Christ. Why would we fall into condemning ourselves? We wouldn't allow others to do this.

Who the heck do we think we are to tell Him that he doesn't know who to pardon, how to grant grace and who His Justice and great sacrifice on the Cross applies to or not? That,  my friends is pure, unadulterated arrogance. Pride.

Humble yourself under God's gracious and merciful hand and dwell there with trust that God loves you, has pardoned you. It takes far more trust in God to accept His grace and forgiveness than to sit in self condemnation - because we have to let go of our assumptions about what we deserve, and what God wants to do to us in His wrath.

Beloved, if our heart does not condemn us, we have confidence before God
I John 3:25


  1. A random passerby. I've been having a hard time coming to terms with my past lately and thought I would throw "forgiving oneself" in Google just to see what I could find. This was one of the first hits I clicked.

    Thanks for writing this. It made the night a bit easier.


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