You’ve Gotta Give Some to Yourself
Disclaimer: everything in this post is something I'm either personally going through or have been through. The experiences I share are because I enjoy sharing the truth about my life and growing with everyone. All that I share here are lessons of my own, and you may take them as you wish.
When I was in high school, I read Stay. Back then, without the hustle and bustle of life, I could finish a book in one night (I should probably work my way back to doing that again🤔). Stay was one of the books I finished in one night and re-read until it was time to check it back into the library. (I'm pretty sure I check it out two more times after that though)
Even at 24 years old, I still adore this book. I always wondered why I was drawn to this novel, and today, as I was reading quotes and messages from Deb Caletti’s writing, I noticed why. Though it's a fictional piece, this book has more truth than many of us care to admit. Caletti reveals a part of life that we face and processes it in a story which the main character has a different name than us (somehow I believe that if we just swap names with Clara and Christian, we would have a story many of us have experienced). Caletti's speaks about hurt, the one that you inflict upon yourself, the healing process, and learning to love yourself in all of it.
As much as I could continue this book club conversation, that's not the purpose of this post.
“Abigail, you need to forgive yourself.”
The words of the quotes I have shared in this post thus far have been ringing in my mind. When I read the first quote, I wondered which person I was. Over time, with some experiences, I've realized that I've been the latter, and it has been hurting.
In my mind and heart, forgiving anyone outside of me, that's doable; to forgive others is something that I have come to love often doing, though I'm still learning to let God teach me how to cause only he knows how. Believing and applying forgiveness to others has been something I seem to do better than forgiving myself. But why is that?
First, I kept hearing, "Abigail, forgive yourself," throughout my devotional time. Then when my mentor told me to forgive myself, I began realizing that it wasn't just in my head, and I started asking:
"How do I forgive myself? What is it that I need to forgive myself for?"
Truthfully, I knew that I hadn't forgiven myself for some of the broken pieces that were produced by the choices I made. Mentally, I knew that where I was at when I made that decision is different from where I currently am, though something just wasn't clicking. I can tell you and all my close people, I know that I can do better and everything that happened is making me a better person. Though, this self-forgiveness thing wasn't clicking, until recently.
The questions of “what caused this happen? Why did I do it? Why does it hurt? How am I interpreting everything?”
In terms of self-forgiveness, I've come to realize that the reason why I find it easier to forgive others but struggle to forgive myself is due to the standard in which I hold myself to, knowing my potential in contrast to my choices, and trusting myself.
When God told us to forgive others, (though it took some time and I'm still learning) it clicked easier for me than the lesson of forgiving one's self (I will forever need God's help in the forgiveness department no matter what). I was struggling to understand and accept my own self-forgiveness because I wasn’t taking in the instructions that Jesus had given into how I treat and see myself:
“Therefore, as God’s chosen ones, holy and dearly loved, put on compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience, bearing with one another and forgiving one another if anyone has a grievance against another. Just as the Lord has forgiven you, so you are also to forgive. Above all, put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity.”
— Colossians 3:12-14 CSB
What Does It Mean:
being able to allow yourself to empathize with someone based on the mental or emotional state that person is in
being able to feel everything for what it is and allowing yourself to come to terms with each emotion and experience; embracing what you need to forgive yourself for
being able to act upon your sympathy for someone;
being able to show and give care to yourself based on what you need to forgive yourself for
thinking modestly of oneself and/or releasing the sense of arrogance and pride
understanding that what it is that you need to forgive yourself for isn’t something that is above you but real for all (the sense that you are going through what others have gone through)
being kind, considerate, and amiable of others and situations
being able to show and give the same level of sensitivity and kindness to yourself that you would give to a loved one or friend
being tolerant without restraints on time and progression
being able to give yourself the time and space to grow and forgive yourself without negativity or frustration
a state of being due to experience, emotions, and knowledge acquired;
the very same thing God has for you that allowed Him to let his Son take your place on the cross, you give to yourself that; accepting and embracing you that hurt you
We forgive ourselves and one another as how the Lord forgave us.
'So I, the prisoner for the Lord, appeal to you to live a life worthy of the calling to which you have been called [that is, to live a life that exhibits godly character, moral courage, personal integrity, and mature behavior—a life that expresses gratitude to God for your salvation], with all humility [forsaking self-righteousness], and gentleness [maintaining self-control], with patience, bearing with one another in [unselfish] love. Make every effort to keep the oneness of the Spirit in the bond of peace [each individual working together to make the whole successful]. There is one body [of believers] and one Spirit—just as you were called to one hope when called [to salvation]— one God and Father of us all who is [sovereign] over all and [working] through all and [living] in all. One Lord, one faith, one baptism, Yet grace [God’s undeserved favor] was given to each one of us [not indiscriminately, but in different ways] in proportion to the measure of Christ’s [rich and abundant] gift. '
-EPHESIANS 4:1-7 (AMP)
I don't have this whole self-forgiveness thing down, but I've learned some critical elements in this experience:
It is in our imperfections that our true beauty and strength lies. There is no way you can be strong, beautiful, magnificent, and all the fantastic things we aim to become without messing up here and there. It comes with being human just as being a sinner comes with being human.
Everyone may not deserve forgiveness(based on our standards), but everyone gets it (based on who God is). There have been countless times that I have messed up and was reminded of the love and mercy of God.
Since God forgives me, then my lack of forgiveness is not in hurt but pride. See the greatest, and the ultimate judge (God) forgive us, why would we hold someone accountable for something that the judge himself has dismissed? (this was a hard pill for me to swallow) There are many times that I have made an oopsie, and the love of God reminded me that his love knows no bounds and that it is fresh with each new day. Why be upset about something God has already released?
R&R isn't about how many spa trips you can make and the level of retail therapy you need (I don't even know why we do that cause my wallet cries afterward). Healing is internal and intentional. Forgiveness comes from within, both when we give it to others and when we give it to ourselves.
Your perspective, fear, and the judgment created by you and others may just be what is stopping you from forgiving yourself. If we saw our mess-ups as opportunities for God to use us more, then we would be excited because we would realize that God's got more things to work with us on! (That makes me excited because I think about all the surprising ways he's about to bless others with what I messed up on!) Fear is projecting what is unrealistic into the future, which we're not even there yet. Judgment, again that's for God, not us.
You deserve to love you too. God pours love into us daily. (think of it as a smoothie you get every day; there are fruits of gratitude, grace, mercy, compassion, kindness, love, and more that I do not recall at the moment) The love that God has given us is for us to share with one another and to soak up. Think about it as giving yourself a big hug (I'm a hugger, so this is working well for me).
When you realize the gravity of what you've done or happened and empathize, you're already on the road to recovery. You don't need to hold yourself as a prisoner because you're never going to grow and get better if you're always criticizing yourself. You cannot be a cheerleader for the kingdom of God and a bully to yourself (had to learn this the hard way)
'Pay attention and always be on guard [looking out for one another]! If your brother sins and disregards God’s precepts, solemnly warn him; and if he repents and changes, forgive him. Even if he sins against you seven times a day, and returns to you seven times and says, ‘I repent,’ you must forgive him [that is, give up resentment and consider the offense recalled and annulled].” '
- LUKE 17:3-4 AMP
I once said:
"It takes a strong person to feel all their emotions."
I wanted to rewrite it a bit:
It takes God and you working together as a team to allow yourself to accept all your emotions and actions healthily so that you may be able to use them as the tools they were intended for. (Remember acceptance doesn't mean you're excusing anything but that you've come to terms of understanding the matter of something so that you can move forward.)
I challenge you, instead of just forgiving others and not yourself or forgiving yourself and not others, look in the mirror. Ask God to help you see what he sees because I bet you, He sees a beautiful child that has been handcrafted by His hands, given His Spirit, given gifts that will change life as we know it, and a child that is on a path to glorify the kingdom that he has prepared for you to indulge in for eternity. (wow, what a run-on sentence)
God said that we get to have compassion, kindness, gentleness, and love through his love for us and the salvation of Christ. The Lord showed us humility and patience, and as you give some to others make sure to yourself too.
Until next time...