in my last post i talked about forgiveness. i want to continue on that theme and talk more specifically about forgiving oneself. when many of us think about forgiveness, we rarely think about having to forgive ourselves. sure, it’s mentioned in passing during a conversation or after a break-up. we are told to “give ourselves a break”, but we aren’t told to forgive ourselves. further more, we aren’t really told the damage we can cause to our body, mind and spirit by not forgiving ourselves.
one of my recent lessons in forgiving myself happened while i was at a sozo session. sozo is greek for “saved, healed, and delivered.” the basic premise of a sozo session is to forgive all those who have hurt you and thus “helped” to align you with lies about God, the holy spirit, and Jesus Christ. when we believe the lies of the enemy, we set up road blocks and walls, which hinder our relationship with God. sozo seeks to resolve this, and help you cultivate a better relationship with God.
the most important aspect of sozo is that you allow the Lord to guide you through forgiving those that He highlights to you during the session. it’s almost freudian really, because you begin with forgiving your earthly father for anything he has done, followed by your earthly mother. both of those figures affect your relationship with God and the holy spirit. you move into forgiving any siblings, friends or spouse to be able to reconnect with Jesus.
during my recent session, it was highlighted, again, that i was fearful for forgiveness of myself. my spiritual leader brought up a very interesting concept when thinking about choosing not to forgive your self.
not forgiving yourself is thinking/acting in a prideful manner, one of the seven deadly sins.
all sins were washed away with the blood of Christ on the cross. john 3:16 is one of the most common pieces of scripture that both christians and non christians hear about. “for God, so loved the world that He gave His one and only son, that whoever believes in Him, shall not parish, but have eternal life.” some may view this as a command to accept Jesus Christ into your life, but i view it differently.
i see this as the Lord showing me how much He loves me despite the fact that it is us who are killing him. with Jesus’ last breath He begged His father to forgive us. His spirit then descended to hell and conquered it, before rising to the heavens. my God was beaten, taunted, staked, starved and “humiliated” by us, by his children, yet He still forgave us with His last breath. not only this, but the phrase “will not parish but have eternal life” for me implies that without accepting forgiveness, we will parish. when we believe the lies of the enemy, and don’t forgive ourselves, we begin to punish ourselves, many with suicide.
i don’t mean to preach this message to unblievers. i believe this message to be so powerful, that i wish it would be talked about more in a positive sense. this is a beautiful testimony of God’s love for us, not a commandment to love Him and not a threat that if we don’t love Him, we will go to hell. furthermore, we don’t need to “accept” Jesus Christ in order to be forgiven by God. but rather so we can actually accept the forgiveness. let me say that again in a different way. we are forgiven, the question is whether or not we will accept that forgiveness or not.
let’s say that we accept Jesus Christ into our lives, but we still struggle with forgiveness of ourselves. why is not forgiving ourselves akin to being prideful? to be prideful is to; have or display feelings of scorn for what is regarded as beneath oneself. when we hold ourselves to exceptionally high standards (aka perfectionism), we are essentially saying that the blood of Jesus is not enough for us and that our salvation lies within our works. but this couldn’t be further from the truth, as Jesus’ death saved us. (ephesians 2:8-9)
i am a perfectionist, but is comes out not in being orderly, but by holding my thoughts and actions to a “higher” standard than i expect others to be at. i am usually the first to say, “i should have known better” or “i should have reviewed that paper better”. it is because i hold myself to such high standards, that i constantly fail, or rather feel like i fail.
not forgiving yourself is basically giving the enemy keys to your soul, where he can abuse you.
having experienced depression before, i know first hand what it is like to not only listen to, but believe, the lies of the enemy. you’re unworthy of love. you’re unworthy of acceptance. you’re unworthy of forgiveness. yes, they are forgiven, but you should have known better. do these sound familiar to any of you? when i refuse to forgive myself, when i refuse to accept that i have already been forgiven, and tap into that forgiveness, i open the doors for the enemy to stay in my life. it’s almost as if i am holding the forgiveness bucket and letting the enemy pour it out and instead fill it up with condemnation.
victims/survivors of sexual assault must learn to forgive themselves or they will forever be latching onto the lies of the enemy. society must learn to stop believing the messages of our rape culture (trigger warning) and see the truth behind sexual violence, so that victims/survivors don’t already begin questioning their “involvement” in the abuse/assault.
i can’t tell you the amount of times i have listened to women talk about rape or assault wrapped up in stories of bad relationships, or drunken escapades. in silence i sit and listen and wait for it to click in. wondering if they will ever realize what happened to them, but hopeful they will never bare the same scars that i bare.
as i process my experiences in this world with sexual violence, i become more and more aware of the ways in which i have blamed myself for the experience(s). not only that, but the process of healing from sexual trauma can some times make you feel like a failure as you recognize your experiences keep you from engaging in “normal” activity. instead of jumping for joy after getting married, you feel as though you want to run and hide, hoping your husband will forget about the wedding night dance. instead of joyfully talking about having babies, raising kids, you shy from the topic in hopes the world will think you are barren or just have other things to do.
so, i encourage you all to take this step with me and learn how to forgive yourself. ask yourself if there is anything you are holding yourself accountable for, and learn to let it go. stand in front of the mirror each morning and remind yourself that you have been forgiven, and today you will do your best. this wont be easy. this will be one of the hardest aspects of healing, i am sure of this. but i am also extremely excited, because feeling forgiveness is the key to my release from condemnation. forgiveness is my freedom from isolation. forgiveness is real. forgiveness is possible. most importantly, forgiveness has already been given!