“Many promising reconciliations have broken down because, while both parties came prepared to forgive, neither party came prepared to be forgiven.” – Charles Williams
The gesture of forgiving someone else is often referred to as “extending the Olive branch.” How peaceful is that imagery? The phrase conjures a picture of biblically attired individuals, stepping forward in dusty, sandaled feet and stretching out a hand to offer and receive a leafy twig in reconciliation.
Self-forgiveness doesn’t feel like that at all to me. When it comes to forgiving myself, it’s not a peace-summit olive branch that comes to mind. It’s more like a flag raised on a bloody battlefield.
Part of the difficulty is that as long as I carry guilt, I can trick myself into feeling like I’m paying back some of the debt that I drove up in my sin.
That’s why grace is so mind-blowing a concept…it is undeserved, given by God in love.
No martyrdom required.
The other part is that I forget that unforgiveness is a weapon of warfare. Self-condemnation is my using the enemy’s bullets and firing at my own spirit. How long I suffer is up to me….the enemy will keep engaging in that battle until I surrender my sins at the cross and leave them there. At the cross…where the war has already been won.
Regret for bad choices is healthy; it keeps me from repeating the past. But hauling around self-condemnation and accepting it as collateral damage is not what Christ came to earth and died for. Like many wars, He fought for freedom – but on the ultimate level.
Good vs. evil. Life vs. death.
So, today – I am choosing to forgive myself.
And by doing so, I am choosing to drop an atomic bomb on the devil’s ammunition storehouse, so that he cannot use my past against me anymore and call it “friendly fire”. A dusty, barefoot soldier raising a flag red with the blood of Christ, even though I don’t deserve to even carry it.
It feels like shock and awe.
It feels like victory.