Love forgives the reflection

by Craig on November 1, 2011

Why can't I forgive myself? I can forgive others but not me...source

It’s so easy to forgive the “easy to forgive”.

But what of the ones who won’t accept forgiveness…
who don’t feel they deserve forgiveness…
who fiercely resist holding onto it…
like a man not wanting to hold his wife’s purse while she shops.

What if every time you look into a reflective surface…
a toaster, a window, a plate…
…a mirror…
you see the hardest person to forgive.

Love forgives the reflection.

I have the hardest time forgiving myself for my long and inspired history of wrong decisions, and mistakes, and failures and shortcomings. Why is it that when all have forgiven…that the last holdout is so often…us?

What if someone has guilt is so overwhelming…
it’s waking them with anxiety attacks…
and they’ve already talked it out with dear friends and pastors…
and acknowledge God’s forgiveness…
and have been forgiven by everyone involved…
but can’t accept the forgiveness?

Why can't I forgive myself? I can forgive others but not me...source

What’s the answer?

I’m thinkin’ this…

If nobody but me really cares about what was done – even God…
then really, don’t the sheer numbers mean something?

If it’s no big deal to anyone, why should it be to me?

Am I that stubborn?

Do I maybe know more of what happened – inner motivations, secret facts…
and is it this classified knowledge that makes it hard to accept forgiveness?

But do I know more than God – God who has forgiven?

Ummm….

Meh….

but…

No.

No I don’t.

Why can't I forgive myself? I can forgive others but not me...source

And I think this…

Maybe there’s something I can do to make it right – and I’m not – so that’s why.
Or maybe I can see the ongoing hurtful effects of the mistake – and that’s why.

So if I do my best to fix things – that should help.
My “inner” Catholic wants to call this Penance.

But feeling sorry for something hurtful…
even if I’ve done all the penance I can…
that is, and should be treated, as different from guilt.

God can use conviction and even “sorry”. He doesn’t really do the guilt thing. The Evil one reaches for it first and often. It’s like he took pictures of said event and keeps flashing them in front of our faces. The wrongdoing is done. It doesn’t exist anymore. Yet he keeps waving the pictures – and we feel guilty.

And I think…

What if I’m continuing to, or planning to, mess up the same way again?
Well then I just need to not. That could help.

But if it doesn’t matter to anyone else, and I’ve tried my best to make good, and maybe still feel sorry, and don’t plan on repeating said sin, then the guilt is over something that doesn’t exist. And I stop for a minute as I type that – and realize how ridiculous it is to not forgive something which doesn’t exist.

We are released from the past…

forgiven in the present…

and what matters is now.

And I heart your wisdom. Are there any more answers?

I know you have some.

I see them flying about between your ears.

Gimme!

Please and thank you.

{ 24 comments… read them below or add one }

Victoria Jenkins November 1, 2011 at 10:01 am

:) Here I am again.
I’m sure you’ve heard the song…well shoot, I can’t think of the name of it…that talks about someone who has asked God to forgive their sin…the same prayer they prayed over and over and finally the Father says. “what sin?”
That’s what he says when the adversary is up there pointing at you. The only thing God sees is blood over you. He looks at your adversary and says, “What sin?” The adversary has nothing on you and I’m sure you’ve heard this cliche before too…when he reminds you of your past, remind him of his future.
Don’t forget this biggie too. Forgive us our sins AS WE FORGIVE those who sin against us. That would include the person in the mirror. Forgiveness for sin has a contingency. We must be willing to forgive whoever sinned against us.
And one last thing. The one who forgives much, loves much. I regret my sins and am so grateful God says, “what sin?” but I know the positive is those sins brought me to my knees and brought me to His Face. What sweeter place. My sin brought me to Him. My sin helped me understand Him and what He did for me so much deeper and clearer. And it’s that sweetness rather than guilt that keeps me from repeating my sin.
Guess you got a lot more than 2 cents from me this morning. :)
God Bless you too and thanks for the reminder of His sweetness. What sin? Suweeeeeet.
I just noticed as I said Suweeeet, that I heaved a great/happy sigh. I love how the sweetness never goes away.

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Craig November 1, 2011 at 12:42 pm

The very best thing about your two cents is the heart behind it. I asked for advice – I asked for input – and I heart that you took the time to give it. Thank you for that. and because of what you wrote I got reminded of Romans 2:4 – that it really is HIS kindness that leads us to repentance. It’s not so much the sin – it’s his kindness – the sin always leads away – ALWAYS. But it’s his forgiveness – and his mercy – and his kindness – that keeps me coming back to him – it’s what he does with the sin – like you said, “what sin” – he obliterates it – (I’m pretty sure that’s what you meant, right? I’m just really persinickity and precise about theology that’s all) And I’m sure God works out something to repair the damage – I can’t back that up Scripture really – but I get the feeling that God goes about repairing an awful lot of damage that we don’t know about. There are angels everywhere. And what you wrote brought that thought to mind too. So thank you for pitching in – thank you for your wisdom – I hearted it all. God bless you, Victoria.

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Layla Payton November 2, 2011 at 1:26 am

“What Sin?” by: Morgan Cryar

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Cora November 1, 2011 at 1:14 pm

Craig, I feel like you got a good look into the secret places of my heart and wrote out all that you saw there! I have been down this road a million times — and I’m not exaggerating here. I feel guilty that I feel guilty, as I know all those verses, know that guilt is not from Him, know that it was all forgiven, and know that He says, “What sin?” But there it is, again and again. And I go through the “maybe I didn’t mean it enough,” or “maybe there’s more I need to confess,” or maybe I didn’t deal with the motives and underlying reasons and feelings,” etc., etc. And ultimately the “maybe I’m not even one of God’s children!” Paranoid comes to mind. I wonder what a paranoid sheep looks and acts like???!!!!

I can only think of the children’s story of “The Emporer’s New Clothes.” Here he had all these beautiful, new, fit-for-a-king clothes, and he saw himself as naked. He couldn’t see them, but everyone else could. And I always relate to his feelings of self-consciousness, nakedness, thinking everyone can see “the real me”, etc.

Some time ago, someone had a picture of their clothesline, and they had just washed up a load of vintage children’s dresses — all white — and they were on the line blowing in the breezes. It struck me, since I’m such a visual learner. That’s what God sees. That’s what He has always seen. Me — in a white dress. No muss, no stains, no wrinkles, no rips.

And then the cycle starts over — I repent of repenting for no sin where I thought there was sin. Oh yikes! Can I say it????? “Oh wretched woman that I am! Who shall deliver me. . .”

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Craig November 1, 2011 at 7:38 pm

Cora, I so, so, so, heart having you read me – and sharing little bits of yourself in my comment section. And I stayed away from all of the “verses” – because like you say most of us know them – so I went with a little different angle – no Bible – but the theology just the same. the friend that I was thinking about when I wrote this – that friend knows all the verses too – and the verses aren’t enough. Sometimes they are not enough for me either. And sometimes I know they’re not enough for you too. anyway, the truth is if we repent, and if we are forgiven from God, and everybody else forgives us, then we are feeling guilt over nothing – over NOTHING! So we need to stop that! You, and my other friend – and me too while we’re at it ツ God bless you Cora!

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Christine November 1, 2011 at 7:10 pm

I can completely relate to this one. I think I even fall into the unforgiveness-is-an-idol trap. It’s easy to do the whole woe-is-me dance and enjoy it just a little. 😛 Thanks for being vulnerable. (PS Love the hubby purse-holding analogy…)

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Craig November 1, 2011 at 7:42 pm

oooooooh – “unforgiveness is an idol trap” – I seriously, SERIOUSLY learn something new every day from my comments section – thank you Christine! It’s like sometimes I get sad – and then I just decide – darn it – I’m just gonna give into it – and grab some ice cream – and just be melancholy for a while – and yes – it is sometimes actually kind of enjoyable! And that analogy? I kept thinking, and thinking, and thinking of the right one – there were cats running from dogs, there were mice running from cats, there were football players running from tacklers – and I finally settled on that one – and so – and so – I’m really, REALLY glad you liked it. Thank you Christine. God bless and keep you!

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Katie November 1, 2011 at 10:35 pm

:) LOVE the post…

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Craig November 2, 2011 at 11:58 am

thank you Katie – you know that means a lot. God bless you.

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Layla Payton November 2, 2011 at 1:29 am

Yeah, what Cora said.

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Craig November 2, 2011 at 11:59 am

(ˆ◡ˆ) perfect – thank you Layla, God bless!!

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Lisa Maria November 2, 2011 at 7:37 am

Hello Craig

Thanks for checking up on me.. and you are right, it is the whole ‘mama thing’ that is keeping me from writing at the moment. I hope the pace slows down soon because I miss being a part of this so much. Words tumble around in my heart and mind and I cant find a nano-second to write them down. Soon.. Lord knows time is in His command and when He wills it I will write it!

This article of yours is pure gold.. I think you express so well what so many of us go through. I love Victoria’s answer… I, too, believe that our falls from grace sometimes open the door even wider to His grace. We are humbled by His love and mercy. We fall in love with Him all over again. For me, I gaze into His loving eyes and am floored by how much He loves and forgives.. constantly right into eternity. Yes, I consider myself unworthy.. but then again, we are! We are only made worthy through His stripes, by His wounds.. through which we MUST enter to gain Heaven. I lie under the burden of my sins and remind myself of all He has done for me. I don’t think I ever want to take it for granted.. to presume upon His mercy.. it keeps me humble and grateful. Then I raise my eyes to Him and KNOW His love endures.. the burden lifts (till next time).

Thanks for your words Craig.. I’ll share them with my husband today. He, too, falls into this pit alot.. the daily reminders of past transgressions bring him low sometimes. Thank God for His Mercy.. its like a graceful hot-air balloon, gently lifting up and taking us out of that pit we dig for ourselves.

God bless you and may He inspire you to keep those words flowing from your heart to your keyboard!

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Craig November 2, 2011 at 12:03 pm

Lisa Maria – that’s poetry in prose – you really do have words tumbling around in your head. Thank you! And your kind words Lisa Maria – I’m grateful – really – thank you. God bless you and your husband!

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Lisa notes November 2, 2011 at 10:30 am

God doesn’t really do the guilt thing. I love that, Craig.

Guilt is often when we feel we owe somebody something–maybe God, maybe somebody else, maybe ourselves–and we can’t find a way to pay it back. Or at least not pay back enough. It’s a hard thing to be satisfied that Christ has already written off the debt–paid in full. But he has. Praying you come to peace with that, brother. I trust the Lord to do that for you!

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Craig November 2, 2011 at 12:07 pm

what a great point Lisa – that guilt is when we feel we owe somebody something – it could be the person we’ve offended – or it could be God – but then, as David said in the Psalms any sin is a sin against God. And Lisa – I am at peace with that. Sometimes when you say you’re speaking of a friend – you’re really speaking of you – this time I was really speaking of a friend. Thank you Lisa. God bless you.

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Mari November 2, 2011 at 10:31 am

“Love forgives the reflection.”…love that. Perfect.

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Craig November 2, 2011 at 12:09 pm

you are an artist – I’m sure that you see so many nuances to that little metaphor. I see one or two – I just know that if you are let loose with that metaphor – out will come photographs that will speak 10 times as much is what I’ve said. So thank you Mari – thank you. God bless you.

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A. November 2, 2011 at 12:02 pm

Craig, what a struggle! I feel it sometimes for myself and sometimes for others. The only thing that lifts it for me, that is, that takes it from head to heart, is when I am able to see the one I struggle to forgive (myself or another) with compassion. When I can weep for where that person has been, and for what likely contributed to that person’s choice to sin, I can really wrap my forgiveness around them or me. For some reason, it doesn’t always stick the first time, but it does take me there each time I am able to find compassion. I think compassion is a gift from the Father somehow.

Love what you wrote, too, about Romans 2 in your response earlier…I was just discussing that with a friend two days ago as we are fleshing out some of these kinds of things. We are propelled to Him by His kindness toward us.

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A. November 2, 2011 at 12:07 pm

So, in your case, I would be picturing all the dark and hurtful things that happened during your formative years, and my heart would begin to think that with your sensitive nature and with all that pain and ill treatment, it would make ‘sense’ that you would act out of fear and pain and rejection, etc. Does that justify any of it, no, but it does help me to see the child wandering around in the darkness, striking out at things that were scary or hurtful, doing whatever he understood to do to protect himself. And my heart would break with compassion for that child, that person. And forgiveness would flood in, and immense gratitude that the child that was lost is now found, and being healed. I have had to look at myself that way, too, and just weep sometimes at the pain of it all, and then the quiet and stillness and peace finally comes. And it is a process that may take place many times.

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Craig November 2, 2011 at 12:11 pm

ummmm – yeah… stop understanding me so much!!!!!!

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Danelle November 2, 2011 at 10:32 pm

Love forgives the reflection.
I’m keeping those words Craig.
Thank you.
Sometimes I throw rocks at myself.

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Craig November 3, 2011 at 2:31 pm

just so you know Danelle – I keep a pile of rocks next to my bathroom mirror ツ but I’m working on it.

God bless and keep you!

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Michelle November 3, 2011 at 5:13 am

“I see them flying about between your ears.” I like this picture.

But, seriously, “I have the hardest time forgiving myself for my long and inspired history of wrong decisions, and mistakes, and failures and shortcomings. Why is it that when all have forgiven…that the last holdout is so often…us?” I had someone say something to me once that really changed my outlook. “Why do you consider myself bigger than God?” If God can forgive and I can’t (or won’t) then I am placing myself higher than God. I am making an idol of myself, because I put myself before the God Who created all. It still takes a reminding of this at times to put myself back into my place – at the feet of God.

But, you’re are also right, in that I think the enemy (which may be us) takes video of what we have done wrong and replays it and replays it and …. until we forget who God is and what He has done and think ourselves too unworthy of His forgiveness. That we have to make it up, because there is no way He would take us back.

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Craig November 3, 2011 at 2:36 pm

I’m not sure if you were reading me way back in the days when I used to study the book of James every day – line by line, word by word – then came one bunny trail – then another – then another – and another – and I haven’t dipped into the book of James for a long while. I’m not sure if I wrote about this or not yet, but while studying James’ section on being judgy I came up with the theory – only a theory – that being judgmental might just be *insert ominous tones* – the unforgivable sin. For the very same reason that you just said – it is only God’s to judge – and when we judge – we place our self above (or at the very least the same as) God – and that is very precarious territory. I heart your thoughts Michelle – I always do. I bless and keep you my friend.

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