With God’s help, we can forgive others for what they have done to us and be graciously removed from damaging bitterness. Another very real struggle is letting go of our own sins. We hold onto our deeds as if we think they are too dirty or dangerous for heaven. What keeps us tossing and turning at night is not trying to forgive the world for what it has done to us, but forgiving ourselves for what we have done to the world.
What a travesty, this self-loathing. How is it that we can grasp the importance of forgiving other people of their wrongdoings, yet buried in the deep recesses of our minds are our own heavy secrets?
We break our hearts over failing faith, plaguing memories, wrecking fears, and longing for someone to understand yet feeling no one in the universe could. We are just too messy and unworthy, and we’ve said some pretty awful things to people we really care about. So we don’t sleep and, behind closed doors, we cry.
Henri Nouwen wrote, “One of the tragedies of life is that we forget who we are.”
“You are your own worst enemy,” my mother used to tell me. In God’s eyes this admonishment could not have been farther from the truth.
“For You formed my inward parts, You knitted me in my mother’s womb, I praise You for I am fearfully and wonderfully made”. (Psalm 139:13-14)
In Christ, we are “made new”.
If this is my “enemy”, I want her on my side!
God’s Word is living, current, and true. If we believe it at all, how can we torture our precious minds and bodies with self-loathing thoughts of guilt, shame, and remorse? We ask for forgiveness, yet struggle with receiving it. When we pray the Lord’s Prayer to “Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive the trespasses of others”, many of us cannot embrace our obedience as God’s very promise to forgive us.
“The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abundant in stead-fast love. He will not always chide, nor will He keep His anger forever. He does not deal with us according to our sins, nor repay us according to our iniquities. For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is His steadfast love toward those who fear Him; as far as the east is from the west, so far does He remove our transgressions from us.” (Psalm 103:8-12)
We are not the enemy - we have been forgiven.
These are the enemy – doubt, depression, and despair. The hateful sneering voices in our heads reminding us over and over what a frumpy, flawed, failure we are, keeping us awake at night and making us grumpy in the morning.
Just as we have to learn to separate the doer from the deed when we forgive the acts of persons toward us, we must separate ourselves from the Liar who wishes death upon us. We must hate those lies like God hates them – with “heavenly hatred” - complete, victorious, and final.
“Search me, O God, and know my heart!
Try me and know my thoughts!”
And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me into the way everlasting.” (Vs. 23-24)
God loves you and me. He wants nothing to separate us from Him and His love. Give Him those grievous thoughts of yours and get a good night’s sleep.
You are forgiven.