Freedom and forgiveness go hand in hand; you can’t have one without the other. But sometimes forgiving ourselves is the biggest battle we face to finding freedom. Check out this excerpt from The Grudge Bible Plan to find out how we can win the war within.
What do you do when the grudge you hold isn’t against anyone but yourself? When your inner critic takes control of your thoughts, shouting things like: How could you do that? Shame on you. You’re unforgivable.
When you feel like you can’t forgive yourself, you’re in a battle you can’t afford to lose. Because here’s the hard truth: Forgiving others isn’t possible without first forgiving yourself. So there’s no time to run away from this internal battleground. It’s time to suit up in the armor of God and take control of the war in your head.
I know it feels overwhelming—insurmountable even. But we can fight this war as long as we know we aren’t fighting alone.
When the weight of what we’ve done is too much, here’s our battle cry:
Whenever our hearts make us feel guilty and remind us of our failures, we know that God is much greater and more merciful than our conscience, and he knows everything there is to know about us. My delightfully loved friends, when our hearts don’t condemn us, we have a bold freedom to speak face-to-face with God. 1 John 3:20-21 TPT
Powerful ammo, right? Another translation of that verse says that God is greater than our feelings. Our minds may make us feel unforgivable, but our Father (who created every part of us) says we have freedom.
The enemy tries to convince us we’re condemned, scheming to get us so focused on our mistakes that we hide from God. It’s a pretty dirty trick, because the enemy knows all he has to do to win us over is to disconnect us from our Savior.
So we hide. And we sit in our own darkness, certain that “we made our bed so now we have to lie in it.” But when we step out of condemnation and into the place of God’s redemption, we have bold freedom to speak with the God who forgives our sins, rights our wrongs, and loves us despite our mistakes.
We don’t have to live in the enemy’s lies any longer. Through Christ, we have the power to take our thoughts captive and find real forgiveness.
Here are some tools to help when your own grudge is too heavy to carry:
1. Acknowledge your feelings. Feeling guilty is good when it leads to God. We all make mistakes. It’s natural (and healthy) to feel remorse when that happens. So when you’ve messed up, acknowledge that you’ve made a mistake and pay attention to the feelings that come with it. Take responsibility. Process and pray about those feelings, but don’t let them fester.
2. Ask God for forgiveness, and confess to others for healing. Tell God your mistake, ask Him for forgiveness, and pray that He’ll help you avoid that mistake in the future. Then confess it to others. Sin grows best in the dark, so bring it to the light of Christ and others.
3. Take action. Sometimes there actually is something you can do to right your wrong. If that’s the case, do it! If you hurt someone you love, have a hard conversation and repair the relationship. Embrace the natural consequences of your action while also receiving God’s supernatural compassion.
4. Seek help. If you’re still struggling to fully receive God’s grace or fully forgive yourself, it may be time to bring in professional help. Sometimes there are underlying issues from past hurts that may need to come to the surface. A counselor or a therapist can help you uncover what those might be and give you even more tools for fully experiencing freedom through forgiveness.
If you’re harboring unforgiveness against yourself, you’re not alone. All of us have made mistakes, yet God chose to pay our debt anyway because He loves us and wants a relationship with us. So don’t allow the enemy to keep you in hiding. Go to God and receive His limitless love that conquers all.