The Shock and Awe of Forgiving Yourself

By:  Jana Greene

“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.

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