December 7, 2011

Accepting Forgiveness

We all mess up. We all know we all mess up. But that doesn’t make it any easier to accept our failures, especially when it means we’ve hurt someone we love or we disobey God.

It’s so easy to look at our lives and see the blemishes instead of the sparkles. We try so hard to cover up those blemishes in our lives, to heap a foundation of good works and disguise on them. Our self-esteem plummets. We self-loathe.

We can’t accept forgiveness, even when it’s offered.  

If we believe in Jesus’ death on the cross and the forgiveness His death allows us, then we know that asking for that forgiveness washes us white as snow in God’s eyes.

But what about in our own?

I’ve heard the phrase, “We need to learn to forgive ourselves,” and while I guess that’s true, more importantly, we need to learn to see ourselves as God sees us.

Easy? No. Possible? Yes.

If we never learn to accept the grace He offers and move on so we can be effective vessels for Him, we will miss out on a lot of blessings and a lot of ways He wants us to bless others. God shows His strength in our weakness. He takes what is broken and creates something beautiful. Beauty from ashes. That’s His specialty.

I started thinking about all of this because of one of my main characters, Jessica. For much of my novel, she is paralyzed by fear that a secret will come out, one that she thought she’d come to peace with but has been trying to “make up for” every since, through intense service at church and being perfect in every way.

God doesn’t expect us to be perfect. He knows we aren’t. We can never “make up for” our sin, only accept His gift of forgiveness and serve Him out of a truly grateful heart that we were lost but now are found, sinners but now saints, in bondage but now set free.

Your Turn: Have you ever struggled with being unable to accept forgiveness? What helped you to move on from that place?


  1. You know, I went through a month-long span where I kept layering on cover up. Sounds strange, right? But I took a deeper look at why I was piling on the makeup (atypical for me) and to this day I think I was dealing with emotional things you address in your post today.
    ~ Wendy

  2. It's so interesting how our actions can look in hindsight, isn't it, Wendy?

  3. I made some big mistakes during my tumultuous 20s and had a hard time forgiving myself. The process took years of soul searching and prayer, but when I finally released the hold those bad memories had on me and forgave myself as the Lord had forgiven me years before, I experienced a rejuvenating sense of peace.

  4. Keli, thank you so much for sharing! I'm so glad you're at peace now and I can clearly see that the Lord is using you in mighty ways. :)

  5. When my father died of cancer I had to forgive myself. This was difficult because my rational mind knew I had done nothing wrong, but my heart felt as if I should have been able to do more for him. The nurse in me knew I did everything possible for him but the daughter in me grieved his loss and couldn't comprehend why my father had been taken.
    It took a great deal of prayer from family and friends and talking it out before my head and heart matched up. I had to allow myself the freedom to grieve and then to live.
    Excellent post, I am going to suggest it to a friend of mine.

  6. TC, thank you so much for sharing. I felt guilty for awhile that I didn't spend enough time with my mom before she passed away too. I'm so glad God gives us grace to accept forgiveness and to recognize when guilt isn't warranted as well.

  7. Oh, forgiveness of ourselves is so hard. I can forgive others fairly easily, I think, but I always have trouble accepting that God has already forgiven me the minute I ask for it.

    Tough subject for me, Lindsay.

  8. Thanks for your honesty, Heather. I think a lot of us struggle in this area. I know I do! I'm such a perfectionist and when I mess up, it takes me awhile to get over it.

  9. I never thought about the fact that forgiving ourselves is harder than forgiving others. It's hard to see our own ugliness sometimes (or a lot of times), isn't it?

  10. I've said that unforgiveness is a family heirloom, passed down in my family from generation to generation.
    I had lots to learn about forgiveness ... forgiving others and forgiving myself. Wrong choices. Wrong actions.
    I had to remember that God lavishes his grace on us ... and to act like it comes from a tightly twisted faucet, one slow d-r-i-p at a time.

  11. I love that, Beth. Thank you so much for sharing your struggles and your heart!