I will never forget the moment I realized I was weighed down by guilt. After all, I had only been living my life the same way most people do, what could I possibly be guilty of? But still, I knew it was there because I had been paying attention for the first time in my life. (Read the first part of this series here: http://wholesomeinspiration.com/freedom-in-healing-series-facing-depression/ ) So that day, I opened a book. One that I had no interest in before. That was the moment that changed my life forever, the day healing began.
I flipped through pages reading story after story of an amazing man who showed unconditional mercy, grace, and forgiveness. Time after time he continued to show grace to people who hardly deserved it. He showed love to people who would never love him back, who completely betrayed him. Seriously? Who does that? I am that person, the one who doesn’t deserve forgiveness, the one who has messed up, been an all around jerk. Shouldn’t he be hating them? Condemning them? Actually, not at all. This was an eye opening message. It was simple, yet paramount – Forgiveness is not earned.
If you read the first part of this series you will remember reading about putting off emotions, until they are piled high as a mountain. Attached to a lot of those unwanted emotions is guilt. Sadness, when faced as sadness alone, we can usually handle that. When it is attached to guilt, we can’t. Guilt is the heaviest weight we can bear. It is attached to our very identity. It’s the voice that says, “you just aren’t good enough, you should have done better, it’s all your fault, you are undeserving, there’s no point.” If you believe it, the walls go up, defensiveness comes in, love stays out, hope disappears. Depression sets in.
This is the good news. None of us are deserving. We have all done things less than admirable. But the only way you are going to be anything better than you are now, is to forgive yourself. Right now. No matter what you did, what you said, that is over. Today is a brand new day. That guilt you’ve been feeling, it was supposed to be telling you to change your behaviour. Make amends. It was not condemning you. As said in part one, emotions are there to help you, protect you, tell you when something is wrong. But they don’t tell us the whole picture.
There is a big difference between guilt and conviction. Be careful which one you listen to. Forgiveness is freedom. For yourself and others. We usually don’t deserve it, but that is what makes it even more powerful. Forgiveness is love in action. Love yourself today. Through all the faults, imperfections, and hurts. Just as you are. Be gracious to yourself. Just as you are able to treat yourself, you will be able to treat others.
If you were wondering, that man was Jesus. If you haven’t read those stories, I highly recommend you check them out for yourself.
“And Jesus said, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.”
And parting his garments among them, they cast lots Luke 23:34.
A powerful example of grace, as these men were torturing and about to kill him. All they cared about were his things, yet he showed an attitude of mercy and love, even while being in immense pain.