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Forgive Yourself

For a long time I thought I understood what forgiveness was. It was being kind to someone despite them wronging you, giving them a second chance and seeing them for more than just their actions. I thought forgiveness was going against your nature, against the feelings of hurt and anger and extending grace and mercy regardless. When it came to other people, I found it relatively easy to forgive - I still do. I think it’s because inherently I know that other people’s actions have nothing to do with me. It’s easy to forgive something when you know it’s not really your problem but it's much, much harder to look inward and forgive yourself.


Forgiving - truly forgiving - reflects in the way you treat people, in your actions and the thoughts in your mind towards them. I find that when it comes to others I’m able to let go of the hurt, resentment and negative feelings that I may have harboured but I don’t offer the same grace to myself. I’m hard on myself, I speak unkindly and overcompensate to try and work back up to a place where I don’t have to feel bad about my actions or lack thereof. It’s strange because for others, a simple apology is enough and sometimes even if they don’t apologise, even if they don’t realise they’ve done something to offend or upset me, I forgive them anyway because I recognise forgiveness has way more to do with myself and my peace of mind than with them. 


I didn’t realise what a debilitating effect unforgiveness can have on your mind and spirit, whether it’s towards others or yourself. In fact, I think the reason it took me so long to finally come to terms with it and forgive myself is because I couldn’t even pinpoint exactly what the problem was. I felt constantly ashamed of myself and unworthy and it was difficult for me to accept love from other people because my relationship with myself was so damaged. To add insult to injury, I didn’t want to sit with myself and my thoughts long enough to get to the root of the issue so I would distract myself and the unforgiveness simply festered inside me like a disease until finally I started noticing its effects materialising. I felt lethargic and unwilling to let people in because I wasn’t really sure why I was feeling the way I was - I mean nothing, outwardly, seemed to be wrong. Although I knew a lot about the nature of God’s unconditional love and the fact that He forgave us, I knew next to nothing about loving and forgiving myself. 


I know, I know that sounds very cringeworthy and trite but hear me out. I think these days certain things have been said so many times that we become desensitised and even dismiss them as just the popular narrative. I believe cliches are cliches for a reason, though and everything people tell you about needing to love and care for yourself is true. Somehow I thought I could neglect myself and still be a good friend, a good daughter, a good student; I thought it didn’t matter how I viewed me or how I spoke to myself as long as I showed love to others the way God decreed us to in John 15:12 What I didn’t understand is that I was running on an empty tank. I got to a point where I felt physically burnt out but I had no idea why. I was sleeping and eating a healthy amount; I was going outside and going about my usual routine that typically kept me feeling energised, but my spirit was in turmoil and the spirit is nearly impossible to ignore. 


When I was finally able to look inward and ask myself what the problem was, I found it was primarily an issue with the way I viewed myself. I didn’t value myself the way I valued other people, I didn’t recognise my own amazing qualities and talents the way I was so quick to recognise and praise them in others. Even when I did acknowledge something positive in myself I would downplay it for fear of becoming prideful. Yes, it’s true that thinking too highly of yourself can be dangerous, but God endowed us with gifts so that we can celebrate them, that includes you celebrating yourself. I had to learn that cherishing myself was not a form of pride but of appreciation of God’s creation because I am fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139:14). Maybe for you, this is common knowledge but this realisation hit me really hard. To be totally transparent, I’m still learning and figuring out this whole loving myself thing because I don’t want to go overboard, but taking that initial step of forgiveness was so, so necessary to feeling like myself again.


Another crucial lesson I learned from forgiving myself was allowing myself to start again. You probably know this already, but when you haven’t forgiven someone, you stay stuck in that moment when they hurt you, when they were inconsiderate or when they did something that completely blindsided you. You remain in that feeling of shock, pain, disbelief and even hate and you relive that moment a thousand times when, really, you only had to go through it once. Forgiving allows you to let go of those negative feelings, to leave vengeance and retaliation to the LORD. It allows you to wipe the slate clean. I found this to be even more true when it came to forgiving myself. Once I truly forgave myself it was like a switch flipped, I was finally able to feel like myself again. Although I was scared, of being honest with myself, of having that hard conversation, I was better for it. This is definitely easier said than done but it’s so beneficial for your mind, spirit and even your body. I encourage you to spend some time with yourself and ask whether you’ve forgiven yourself. No matter how insignificant something may seem, unforgiveness causes us to hold onto it and blow it out of proportion. It stops us from taking the steps we so desperately need and want to be happy because we're not sure we deserve it. 


My relationship with myself, after my relationship with God, is the most important one I will ever have - I see that now. You are the only person that has lived in your body, seen the things you’ve seen, experienced the things you’ve experienced and felt the things you’ve felt. Literally no one else will view and internalise things the way you do. No one will understand you more profoundly than you understand yourself, therefore it only makes sense that no one can love you and give you permission to be happy the way you can. Once I forgave myself, an intense feeling of relief washed over me, accompanied with excitement for the future because finally I wasn’t limiting myself based on mistakes I made in the past. I was free from resentment of the past and fear of the future because I know that no matter what happens I’m going to be there for myself. Whether or not I mess up, I’m going to keep providing myself with the same grace I give to others and that gives me a lot of peace, not to mention the freedom to try things boldly and without the fear of failing. I hope you forgive yourself and that it has the same positive effect in your life that it has had in mine.

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pmrwabwogo
pmrwabwogo
26. Mai

Welcome back from the hiatus Nganzi🥰thank you for sharing your spiritual journey in an open and transparent way so that we can be encouraged and also learn some lessons. I think what you shared in this piece is very important and it applies to both young and older people. Thank you for being authentic and sharing the high and the low points of your walk with the Lord. His Grace is Enough! Keep on keeping on🙏🏾Love you 🫶🏾

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