Several years ago, after we were married and before we had kids, I committed what I believe to be my most ugly sin. Like, ever. It'...

Forgiving Myself

Friday, January 18, 2013 , ,

My pointy nose

Several years ago, after we were married and before we had kids, I committed what I believe to be my most ugly sin. Like, ever. It's a sin I think about from time to time, and every time it comes to mind I cringe and my mood darkens and feel immense guilt.

I can't believe I did that...

It was a sin I committed once. 
No one in the world knows about it except my husband, who was there and not completely without sin that moment either. But this post is about my sin, not his. I'm not his Holy Spirit. 

I know, I know, I hate cryptic, vague posts and statuses just as much as everyone else. 

Still, I cannot and will not share it with you.

I will, however, assure you that:
1. It was in no way illegal, I broke no legal law.
2. No one else was hurt or victimized by this specific sin. 

Still, in my heart, it is one of the blackest, ugliest things I've ever done.
{Even though I know, all sins are equally detestable.
My human mind does like to rank them, though.
There are a couple other sins that are "up there" near this one in my mind.
 For some reason, my heart really holds on to this one.
Maybe because it was so very out of character for me.
I was shaken by it.}

Naturally, being a Christian who believes in a loving, yet sin-hating, God, I asked for forgiveness quite promptly for this specific sin. 

And then again, and again, and again, whenever I thought about it I'd immediately call out to God to beg for His forgiveness. I was still ashamed, years later.

After months or years of nagging God for forgiveness, I heard a message that I needed to hear. I was reminded that part of believing that Jesus has overcome death and vanquished all our sins on the cross is believing that when we ask God for forgiveness--ONCE--we ARE forgiven. Period. 

It was a reflection of doubt on my part, and I don't often consider myself a doubting Christian. But apparently I am. Because every time this sin crossed my mind, I had to ask for forgiveness...again. 

This specific one really bothered me, you see. A huge black mark that I just couldn't get washed out of my white robe, the one Christ handed to me at my baptism. It has really weighed on me. I hate it. I hate that it's a part of me.

Or...at least my sinful self tells me it's still a part of me. 

"I, even I, am He who blots out your transgressions, for my own sake, and remembers your sins no more," says Isaiah 43:25

The scriptures are clear, when I confess, repent, and ask for forgiveness, God does forgive. He did forgive me, the first time I asked for His forgiveness. 

I, on the other hand, did not, would not.
Forgive myself, that is. 

Society and Satan love to tell us that the supposed Christian God is an angry, vengeful God who doles out punishments and wrath upon us. 

God wants us to feel GUILT and SORROW about ourselves, right? 

No. 

God wants us to confess and repent. 

There is a difference, and it is very important.
Without repentance, we cannot acknowledge the need for a savior and there is no motivation to stop committing that sin. 

But where in the Bible does it say we should walk around weary and guilt ridden for the rest of our lives?

Nowhere.


The world tells us otherwise, but the WORD is clear as crystal:

"The LORD is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast 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

As a sinner, I cannot do what God can: completely forgive myself.
I have not been able to move my transgressions from my human memory. They plague my conscience still.

And yet God, who is supposed to be the ever-angry one, the one who wants us to feel bad about ourselves (says the world) is able to do just that. As far as the east is from the west...

I stand in church on Sunday and confess along with our classic Lutheran liturgy that "I am a poor and miserable sinner".

What a downer, right?

Not to me, because right after the confession my vicar announces on behalf of God that we ARE forgiven and that's that. That's the end of it, no more guilt should plague me. I leave church every Sunday replenished and reminded: it is finished, Christ has paid my debts. I am free.

As the Apostle Paul (who had a very dark and ugly past himself, by the way) puts it:

“Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death” (2 Corinthians 7:10).

I have been offered some truly sincere and beautiful apologies in this life when others have wronged me. I have given some sincere apologies too. I'd like to think that I've completely forgotten, blotted out, those transgressions, but if I'm being honest here, I have to admit that I have not completely. 

They still come up. They still bother me. 

The only being who is really capable of blotting out, for good, my transgressions and yours, is God. 

The world and Satan will tell you He wants you to feel guilty all the time. 
Don't buy it.

We are to feel joy.
Because we are free in Christ.
The law no longer binds us.

Satan is our accuser. He wants us to remain in the Law.
He is the one who wants you to wallow in your guilt, unforgiven, without Gospel.

Guilt can drive us toward repentance, and that is a good thing, but once we are forgiven by God, it's time to believe we are forgiven. God has removed our sins and our guilt should, naturally, go with our sins: away. 

You are forgiven. 

I am forgiven. 

On judgement day, I will stand before God as a perfectly pure being, despite my countless ugly sins. 

Christ's perfection will act as a sort of proxy for my lacking soul. 

Why? If I am so underserving? 

The only answer I have for that is because I am loved. 

Loved incredibly more than I can love, it would seem. 

Because I'm offered that forgiveness even if I can't give it to myself, let alone others. 

I am not free from myself, I hold myself guilty all these years later. 
But, in Christ, I am free. Completely free.
Sin no longer weighs me down when I live in Him. 

And God wants to bring me home to be with Him. 
He wants to see me as pure and righteous and so He gives me that indescribable gift. 

It's all just too marvelous to comprehend. 

This is the Good News.

It gives me great joy!

And that is why I wanted to share it with you.

Don't listen to what the world tells us about God.
The world is not our friend.
Only trust in the Word, which is God (John 1:1).

And the Word tells us clearly: when I repent,
I. AM. FORGIVEN.
It's done.

I will let my guilt go with it, and embrace the joy God wants for me in Christ.
Praise Him in that joy.

In the mean time, I will work to try and forgive myself, and others, the way God has. My soul seems unwilling to free itself, intent on focusing on the sin and the guilt I still want to carry. Thankfully, Christ has freed me.

It is remembered no more.

_______________________________________

There is no condemnation...

"There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death. For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh: That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit." - Romans 8:1-4

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4 comments

  1. Hey Heather! I just want to thank you from the bottom of my heart for making yourself so purely vulnerable and sharing this post. We all have those ugly spots in our lives, those things that we find incredibly hard to forgive ourselves for. You are such a beautiful woman. And I am so thankful to God that He is love and He does completely blot out our confessed sins.

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    1. Amber :) You're always so sweet. Thanks for the comment.

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  2. That's a beautiful essay. Revealing and am sure hard to confess. I think one of the most difficult acts is that of forgiving oneself. Certainly, God forgives us, but we still wince and beat the dead horse of the past, and regret acts that occurred long ago, and wishfully desire to go back in time and make amends. So remorse, guilt, shame, are all valuable human feelings. In remorse, you say to yourself,"I won't do that again." and you probably won't. Remorse teaches us lessons and is valuable in that sense, but we do have to release ourselves from it's weight and fly again. And that is the grace of God, he lets us fly again.
    Love, Dada

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    1. True, true. Thanks dad :) Love you.

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