Forgiveness isn’t just for others, it’s for you too. Are you struggling to forgive yourself for truth you didn’t know or couldn’t see during the time of affliction? Understanding how to forgive yourself for past mistakes is the hardest part of the journey to healing. It’s easy placing the blame on others for what they’ve done to hurt you, but how do you live with yourself when you feel you could’ve prevented your wounds? What do you do when the person you’re most angry with is the one you see in the mirror everyday?
The more I mentally relived the things that happened to me in my past, I felt like the biggest fool. The obvious signs I missed, overlooked, or didn’t want to see, all the things I kept going back to and accepting, replayed in my head.
I felt like I should’ve known better. Had I not done this or gone back to that, I could’ve prevented X,Y,Z from happening. I played that game with myself for the longest time before I realized just how counterproductive it is. It’s easy to get down on yourself for what you think you should’ve known or done at the time, but that’s pointless.
In the first post, I discussed why it’s important to forgive others (click here if you missed that). However, in this second installment of the series on forgiveness, I want to dive deeper and explore the internal struggle many of us face on the journey to healing. Today, I want to give you 3 principles to help you forgive yourself for past mistakes.
1. You are human and you make mistakes.
Somebody asked me once how do you forgive yourself after staying longer than you should’ve or after missing the obvious signs and red flags. For me, it was simply understanding and accepting the fact that I was human and I make mistakes. You can’t change your past but know that God uses even your mistakes to work in a pattern for good.
Nothing is ever wasted with Him. Yeah, you may have stayed longer than you were supposed to, went back too many times, or missed the obvious signs to get out of the sunken place, but God already knew the mistakes you’d make and planned accordingly. Every mistake has a purpose and is designed for growth. The experience is so valuable because it gives you wisdom that you can take into your future, apply it to your life, and then pass it onto others who will need your light.
“A righteous person may fall seven times, but he gets up again.“
Proverbs 24:16, (GWT)
2. A person is sent as the solution to every problem.
You also forgive yourself for past mistakes by understanding that God has the answer to any and every problem you have. He often sends the solution in the form of a person. Whether the problem is something you’re dealing with externally or a deficiency within that you need to correct, a person is the device used. This person comes to either help solve your problem or reveal to you what needs to be changed even if it involves a painful experience.
Some things can only be fully comprehended when the sting of it is strong enough to hurt. God uses anything, even the devil and his cohorts to carry out His purposes and it all works out for good in the end. Looking at it from this perspective helped me to forgive myself for my mistakes and shortcomings and move on.
3. Everything that happened turned out how it was supposed to.
It may sound cliche, but everything happens for a reason and in the way that God ordained it to. We don’t always understand why things happen the way they do, but they always turn out exactly how they are supposed to. We can’t change the will of God, but being in His will is the best place you can be in. Even if that place is painful and doesn’t turn out how you thought it would. Instead of being angry about what didn’t happen, give thanks to God and be grateful for what did.
“Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”
1 Thessalonians 5:18 (ESV)
In John 5, Jesus encounters a man by a healing pool who had been there for 38 years. In verse 6, He asked the man, “do you want to get well?” Jesus’ question to this man was a very valid one because it speaks to the fact that some people don’t want to be well. Some would rather wallow in their pain and excuses rather than make a change toward healing. Instead of a simple response, the man gave an excuse. He was looking for someone else to put him in the healing pool. However, Jesus commanded him to get up and walk.
Immediately, the man was healed. You see, it’s all a matter of do you want to be healed. It’s the power of choice. You can choose to sit in a lame state with your excuses, or you can get up and be healed.
If you’re struggling to forgive yourself for mistakes in your past, I admonish you to release yourself from your own judgment and be made whole. Do you want to get well?