Often times, we are taught the importance of forgiveness. We are told how forgiveness is for us, not the other person. We are also reminded of the verse that says to forgive so that we may be forgiven by God. After a while, learning to move forward from another person’s wrongdoings can become a normal part of the Christian lifestyle.
However, I’ve learned that it is MUCH more difficult to forgive the person closest to you, yourself. Often times, we can internalize so deeply the regrets of the past. We can move through life full of the guilty notions of “why.”
Why didn’t I love this person more before they died?
Why did I allow this to happen?
Why didn’t I speak up?
Why did I hurt the one I loved?
In the midst of our “whys”, we tend to see our reflection in the mirror as the biggest source of betrayal. Many have found themselves in a pit of depression from persistent nagging inner thoughts. I am convinced, however, that many in the Bible found themselves in the same predicament. They were left wondering what could have happened had they said or not said, done or not done. What would their lives have become?
Particularly, I consider the story of Joseph. Many read the story of Joseph and have pity on the man who suffered great trials but chose to forgive the ones who hurt him. However, I wonder what his thought life must have been like throughout his many ups and downs.
Genesis 37: 3 Jacob loved Joseph more than any of his other children because Joseph had been born to him in his old age. So one day Jacob had a special gift made for Joseph—a beautiful robe.
It is clear that Joseph is favored. Although his father had many children, there was something special about Joseph in the eyes of his father.
Genesis 37: 5-6 One night Joseph had a dream, and when he told his brothers about it, they hated him more than ever. “Listen to this dream,” he said.
In the dream, Joseph sees a representation of his brothers and parents bowing down to him. Needless to say, this was not met with a great reception from his family members. In fact, his brothers were so outraged by the “dreamer” they were ready to kill him. Fortunately, his brother, Reuben spoke up and convinced the brothers not to. Joseph finds himself in a pit, where he would later be sold into slavery.
Genesis 37: 28 –So when the Ishmaelites, who were Midianite traders, came by, Joseph’s brothers pulled him out of the cistern and sold him to them for twenty pieces of silver. And the traders took him to Egypt.
Although Joseph’s story continues with more misfortune, I am left to wonder what he was thinking in the pit. In this moment of time when his very family members had betrayed him, did he blame himself? I can hear him thinking so many things.
I should have just kept my mouth shut.
What if I die here?
I will never live out my dream because of this.
Why did I share my dream?
Maybe this is what I deserve…
I can assure you Joseph questioned himself on how he ended up in the predicament. Although he may have felt sheer hatred towards his brothers, he may have also despised himself for sharing the dream that could lead to his death.
Perhaps you are like Joseph, recognizing that your actions may have indirectly caused you to suffer. Or maybe you are certain that your actions were responsible for an unfortunate ending. Whatever the case, NOW is the time to forgive yourself. NOW is the time to say, “Yes it happened, but I will move forward with God’s help.” NOW is the time to “let it go.”
In my years, I have learned that one trick of the enemy is to constantly replay the past in your mind. He loves to remind you of how you “dropped the ball” or “missed the mark.” The enemy will use your mistakes from the past to discourage you from stepping into your God-ordained purpose. It can get so bad that you are constantly tormented with thoughts of “what if I had just.” I can imagine this being the case for Eve after the bite, Joseph after sharing the dream, Lot after his wife dies, and Judas after the betrayal. They probably spent the rest of their life full of guilt.
Friends, let this be the day you truly forgive yourself! Make up in your mind that every mistake was a lesson worth learning from. In some circumstances, with prayer, we may find we are even internalizing some things that were never our fault, to begin with. I challenge you today to not just forgive your enemies but to forgive you. God wants you to have your best life. Carrying the shame of the past will always get in the way of God’s ability to work victoriously in your life.
I thank you for being the Lord of my life. I thank you that you forgive me for my wrongs and renew. Help me to renew my mind. I pray against every form of shame, guilt, and regret that is hindering my ability to hear your voice clearly. I ask that you give me peace and help me to move forward. Thank you, Lord, that every attack of the enemy to torment my thoughts no longer be effective. I ask you for clarity and a clear conscience. In Jesus Name. Amen.