Healing Power

Running commentary on how Jesus' Healing Power is affecting my life - and helping me to help others.

Sunday, January 06, 2008

Forgiving oneself: the hardest one to forgive

I have committed a wrong against my wife. I kept a secret from her for several years. When it came to light, I lied about it. The secret was financial - not anything really newsworthy.

The pain we both experienced as a result of this sin, however, is newsworthy.

A man I once respected told me that the secret to a good marriage was sincerity. “Once you can fake that, you've got it made!”. Well, I tried it. It worked until about a month ago, when I finally confessed my sin and tried to figure out how to make things right.

The reaction I received to my confession was worse than I could have imagined. I had hurt her. I had hurt her bad. And it didn't look like our marriage would survive.

Time went on, though, and she did forgive me. She was still angry, but she did forgive me. That was a huge weight to be lifted. Our marriage would survive, and my children would still live in a two-parent household.

But the hardest forgiveness to receive wasn't from her, or even (if you read Romans 8) from our Heavenly Father. The hardest forgiveness to receive was from myself. I was - and am still to a degree - unable to forgive myself for the pain I had inflicted upon my dear wife. Last night, I confessed my love to her in words I had never used before. Last night, after she let me know that she would likely never be able to trust me again, I explained that the very act that took away her ability to trust me was the same act that meant I would never do anything to destroy that trust again. In other words, she would not be able to trust me because I had broken that trust. The knowledge of the pain I had caused would prevent me from ever breaking that trust again.

My wife had forgiven me. My God had forgiven me. But I could still not forgive myself.

The last week of the year, our church always holds a prayer service to purge the wrongs of the previous year and ask for blessings on the coming year. During the time of confession, I found myself sobbing uncontrollably. Several pairs of hands were place on my shoulders then removed. The last pair of hands were the giant, gentle hands of our preaching minister. I got up and prayed with him, asking him how I could forgive myself for what I had done. He said, as so many had throughout history, that the person hardest to forgive is ourself. Through steady prayer and asking God to help me move on, I have arrived at a place where I can face the future. But I'm still holding some of the burden from my sin.

Gentle readers (the two or three that may be remaining), I ask you - how do you forgive yourself when you have wronged someone dear to you? Some of the scriptures I've been reading: Psalm 51, Romans 8, 2 Corinthians 2 and 1 John.

I'm still working on it. My appetite has returned, and I'm finally beginning to do well at my new job. But I still cry when I sing or read about forgiveness, or when I hear about someone in a similar situation.


  • At 3:11 PM, Blogger Simpsongirl said…

    Clay, welcome back! I guess to answer your question about forgiving yourself -- I think once you know you have been forgiven by God and the person whom you have wronged, the key is beginning to live like you are forgiven. In other words, allow yourself to walk in the light of forgiveness, not under the cloudy cover of unforgiveness. Move on. When you have thoughts about the past that pop into your head, change them into a prayer thanking God for fresh starts. Satan would love for you to keep dwelling in it. Get out of the pit and start living like a new man.
    Jesus made that possible, my friend!

    I am glad you are blogging again.

  • At 2:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Right now, I am in the same pit which you speak about. I feel so guilty and laden over my betrayal to my children. They have both forgiven me and I should be happy but I just cannot forgive myself and I will not blame them ever again if they do not trust me. It is a miserable state - yes I read the scripture but am more miserable cos it gives me no light or rather I receive no light from it. If flogging me would make me feel better, I would gladly oblige. Penance? Can it take away the heaviness and shame?


  • At 1:05 PM, Blogger D-Rock said…

    Hi Clay - just wanted to say you're not alone. I also have a tough time forgiving myself and do not know how to let it go. The only thing that has ever helped me in the past has been to pray. That was a long time ago and I was a whole different person. I prayed every time I was at church for forgiveness for what I had done. This went on for over 5, maybe 6 years. And it was for something so very small, but because of my actions, I had wronged someone else and so much sadness and guilt consumed me. Finally...after one day of praying at church, I felt better. I had finally been able to forgive myself for what I had done. I've just done something else now, that I feel very sad and guilty for, as I had a part in it, and am now trying to cope with the same thing all over again. I may never know if I am forgiven for my part in what happened with a friend as I don't think they will ever speak to me again. The only thing I know I can do, is pray. I am looking forward to reading the scripture passages you posted as well...I hope you are doing well, and thank you for writing.

  • At 11:22 PM, Blogger L Garcia Muro said…

    Glad to hear that you are back on the right track. In Proverbs 24:3, "Through wisdom a house is built, and by understanding it is established" Keep your marriage healthy by living in the word of God, wisdom and understanding.

  • At 12:40 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I still hold my self hostage because of my wrong doings,my son will never forgive me,it still hurts to not understand who I had become and it was so unforgiveable.
    I know I need to forgive myself and move on,I just keep wishing there was a way to change the clock back in time;would I change my ways? yes! I most definately would. My son was/is my whole life. Thank you...


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