In spite of all my bad choices and trying to make “my story” work, God still wanted me. And He still wants you, too, even if your story has been derailed by your own agenda.
Friend, I hope that you’ll accept my heartfelt apology. I can only wonder where we would be today if I had made better choices. I am truly sorry for all the things I have done to drive you away. You did not deserve any of them. They were my choices and they were my responsibility.
It is my cross to carry. Every time I would look at myself in the mirror, I say to myself “Self, I forgive you.”
We listen to an internal dialogue.
We beat ourselves up saying things like, “I should have known better.” Or, “Why did I do such a stupid thing?” or “I can’t believe I did that.” Or, “What’s wrong with me?” And for some, the internal dialogue is running day and night, tormenting them with each and every mistake, sin, and failure.
I keep fighting voices in my mind that say I’m not enough. Every single lie that tells me I will never measure up. Am I more than just the sum of every high and every low? Remind me once again just who I am, because I need to know.- “You Say”, Lauren Daigle
With the world’s opinions, and definitions only getting louder and louder, we cannot afford to not take authority over the voices we hear about who we are and our worth. We must continuously make sure that no other sound is louder than God’s voice, God’s Word, and God’s truths.
And trying to reject the false beliefs without replacing them with God’s truth is impossible (Matthew 9:14-17, Mark 2:18-22, Luke 5:33-39).
Cause I loved you before you knew it was love
And I saw it all, still I chose the cross
And you were the one that I was thinking of
When I rose from the grave
Now rid of the shackles, My victory’s yours
I tore the veil for you to come close
There’s no reason to stand at a distance anymore
You’re not far from home.
Baby, you’re almost home now
Please don’t quit now
You’re almost home to me.
Steffany Gretzinger, “Out of Hiding (Father’s Song)” lyrics
We have held on to and used these false beliefs for so long that they seem normal to us. If we approach our life situations passively, they will always rule. Therefore, our model is to identify, confess, reject, and then replace.
We can put God’s words against the claims of the world and see what is truth and what is not. We no longer have to wonder. It’s simple math. If their words don’t equal His Word, their value is zero.
So many of us spend too much time listening to the the wrong voice lies and too little time receiving the favor and unlimited grace of our Heavenly Father. We belong to a living and righteous God who breathes into us the power to break every stronghold that tries to hold us down and we must guard our mind from anything that would defile this knowledge.
God wrote about who we are and whom we belong to in His Book of Truth (Bible). It will remind us over and over again in moments when lies would us believe our false self. Go back to the Source of your identity and purpose and not the people who you’ve allowed to represent God for you. Go back to the actual words He has written down for you. He calls you:
1 Thessalonians 1: 4
Ephesians 2: 10
His workmanship created for a purpose.
Galatians 3: 26
Romans 5: 8
And in your journey with Him, you discover who you really are, you may uncover the truths about yourselves. Your name is not the name the world calls you. Your name is not the name my past calls you. Your name is not even the name your own mirror calls you. But your name came from the One who created you. God knows you best. You are fearfully and wonderfully made.
“Self, I forgive you”
When we try to forgive ourselves, we’re trying to release something that feels like it is part of us. We’re releasing who we were in the moment that we did whatever it was.
When we forgive what someone else has done, in a sense it feels easier. We’re releasing a part of our past that isn’t essentially who we are—unless we’ve told the story of that hurt so frequently that we’ve built our identity around it! In that case, it becomes hard to forgive the other person because the transgression and our reaction has become central to how we define ourselves.
To release that part of your past that you need to forgive, it’s helpful to remember that we’re all doing the best we can in any moment.
If you had known that your action would cause pain to others or yourself, you probably wouldn’t have done it, right? And even if you knew that you were causing damage at the time, you had no idea how much you would regret it in the future. Retain what you learned from the event but release everything else. – Psychology Today, “Why is it hard to forgive yourself?”
It’s important as biblical counselors that we understand the way out of this internal bondage. It’s not self-forgiveness, but rather self-acceptance. Although she’d be hard pressed to acknowledge it, she wants to be like God—perfect and in control of all things.
She believes she should know how to do it right, to say it right, to know ahead of time what the right answer should be or what right solution will best solve a problem. If she could always live that way, then she’d feel better about herself. But when she fails (and as a sinner, she inevitably will), she feels profound disappointment and shame. She can’t believe how stupid, sinful, foolish, incompetent, scared, irresponsible, selfish she is. In beating herself up, she’s reinforcing her internal lie that she should have been better than that.
Before someone can experientially accept God’s grace, she must emotionally (not merely intellectually) accept who she is. There is only one God, and she is not him. She is a creature: one who is called both saint and sinner, beautiful and broken. Humility is the only path that will give her the internal freedom she craves because once she is humble—Jesus called it “poor in spirit”—she’ll be in a position to emotionally accept who she is—a fallible, imperfect, sinful creature who doesn’t know it all. Then, she will no longer be so shocked, shamed, or disappointed when she sees her darker, sinful, weaker side.
It’s not her sins and failures that cause her greatest emotional pain. Rather, it is her unrealistic expectations of herself and her lack of acceptance when she messes up. In a backwards way, her pride has been wounded. She is disappointed that she isn’t better than she is. But the truth is, she’s not. In embracing that truth, she is also set free to embrace and experience the beauty of grace.
Your worst days are never so bad that you are beyond the reach of God’s grace. And your best days are never so good that you are beyond the need of God’s grace.
Now the grip of self-hatred for being imperfect no longer has the same power over her. Now that same emotional energy can be used to humbly ask for forgiveness from others where necessary. Instead of hating herself for her sins and failures, now she can learn from them so she doesn’t continually repeat them. Now she can fully experience what she so desperately craves: God’s love and forgiveness for her sinful, imperfect self.
In His Word, we will find our value and worth. Start taking your place as the daughter or son of a King. Go forward, friend, and help your them emotionally accept his or her imperfections. It is in that place of humility coupled with Christ’s unconditional forgiveness will they will find the freedom they long for.