I have a “friend”– we’ll call her Jane. Jane has made some mistakes with her life. Apparently, Jane is under the impression that Christians are perfect and that, because she made some mistakes with her life, she is going to Hell. Even though she’s a Christian. Even though she’s asked for forgiveness.
When I question her about this, she says that what she’s done in her past is so terrible that God won’t forgive her. When tell her, that in fact, God does forgive us for all our sins, she says, okay, fine then she refuses to forgive herself.
Interesting. How do we deal with our past? How do we deal with mistakes that bother us long after they’ve stopped bothering God? The Bible says, “Know this, God has even forgotten some of your sin.” (Job 11:6b) and “Their sins and lawless acts I will Remember no more.”(Hebrews 10:17). When we confess our sins and ask for forgiveness, God answers our prayer and grants our request.
At the Women of Faith conference, one of the women (darn, I cannot remember which and cannot decipher the chicken scratch in my notebook) said, “Forgiveness is a gift from God in an unfair world.” We are fallible. We make mistakes. Sometimes we make mistakes because people who are bigger, or stronger, or influential make decisions for us when we are unable to make them for ourselves. Are we responsible for actions our parents force us to make? I’m not offering up excuses, I’m evaluating actions. While I believe that, as adults we are responsible for our actions and decisions, children (and teenagers, sometimes even young adults) may not be in a position to make the correct decision. It is an unfair world. And God has given the gift of forgiveness.
But how much harder is it to forgive ourselves. I think it is easier to forgive others than it is to forgive ourselves. There are people who hurt us over and over again, and we forgive them. But every stumble, every mistake that we make is met with an internal “gotcha” that we use to make our selves unforgivable.
But, to suggest that we are unforgivable in God’s eyes is to place limits on God. It is us claiming that something–our sin–is bigger than God. But we know that there are no limits with God. When we refuse to forgive ourselves, we are suggesting that our small, limited existence is greater than God.
He’s taken the first step. What are you waiting for?