Just a reminder that if you haven’t entered to win the new Bible study Live Full, Walk Free from Cindy Bultema, I’ll be drawing the winner this Thursday. Make sure you go enter now!
In Pray A to Z, one of the F topics is Forgiveness. Personally, I found this to be one of the most challenging topics to write about. Learning to forgive as Christ forgave us is something that can only be enacted by the work of God Himself in our lives.
But what do we do when the person we need to forgive is the one looking back at us in the mirror?
As I’ve chatted with women across the country, the person in the mirror sometimes is the hardest to forgive.
My friend Julie Dibble offers encouragement and practical help in the struggle to forgive yourself. I know her story will encourage you.
What if you were a newer member of God’s family, and you were asked to speak on forgiveness?
A little over a year ago, this happened to me.
More mature members of God’s family made comments like, “Oh, good luck.” or “Better you than me.” I fully appreciated the open door to speak, but this topic …
Feeling too small for this big job, I prayed for His guidance and direction. I met with my pastor who directed me to certain chapters to study … and study I did.
As the day grew near, my talk was coming together. I could testify how God helped me forgive my parents for hurtful choices they made, and how He forgave me for becoming controlling toward my precious family.
Not only did He pour love and grace over me, but He helped me change my heart and my behavior. A story I planned to share involved our boys at the dining room table. After our youngest Jackson did not follow my direction, my voice raised. Our older son, Braedon’s, eyes bulged. Watching Braedon react let me know I really had changed. Braedon was not used to hearing my voice loud anymore. Thank you, Jesus.
With this story and adding a couple of verses to the talk, I was still coming up short for 40 minutes.
Then, with His holy orchestration … this …
Sitting in a pew, soaking up His love and sacrifice as I stared at the cross, His still small voice whispered Write yourself a letter. Knowing what Jesus’s sword of truth was pointing at, I cringed.God wanted me to write a letter to myself, forgiving myself for my past sins.
By my earthly estimation, this issue was resolved, complete, ready to be filed.
“I would rather not write a letter, Lord.”
The same four words came back from the Spirit, Write yourself a letter.
“Lord, I thought we were done with this. Our house is more peaceful, and I love you and everything You have done in my life.”
He knew what was in my heart. It would be very hard to go to that tender place in front of my congregation and forgive myself. It is not surprising I fooled myself into thinking my heart was clear of guilt. In my Bible reading, I sought specific verses and stories about forgiving others as He has forgiven us.
It never occurred to me that forgiving “others” included ourselves.
“If you forgive those who sin against you, your heavenly Father will forgive you. But if you refuse to forgive others, your Father will not forgive your sins” (NLT Study Bible, Matthew 6:14-15).
Obediently, I crafted the letter, which became part of the talk for two services in November 2015.
This letter is to tell you it is time to forgive yourself for all the yelling and love you withheld behind your hardened heart. Your desires when you were young to help parents and your brother was time well-spent in love, but something changed in you as you grew.
Remember, though you did not know God, God sent you a loving, loyal husband who would not let you go. Remember, God blessed you with two loving, smart boys who pray and are learning to love the Lord.
God has provided you already with mercy and grace and heavenly love to cover all your sins, Julie. If you do not forgive yourself for your own misgivings and imperfections, you are being rude to God. You are not accepting of His holy gifts. For He loved you before you were created. God’s love for you is timeless.
Julie, in this moment choose to feel God’s love. Let His heavenly grace rest on your shoulders. Choose to remember to pray when Satan sneaks in to tempt you to control others or to fight in anger. Choose to remember God’s grace that fills in the gaps when your efforts fall short for the day.
In His Love,
Your Imperfect Daughter of God self
If this letter-style model of self-forgiveness will help you, feel free to copy the format and insert your name and specific incidences. Read it with people or just with God. Tuck it away where you can find it if you become wrought with guilt in the future.
Jesus accepted his Father’s plan and carried the cross He would later die upon. In moments of human anguish and physical pain, Jesus took all our sins: past, present and future.
Lay your sins at His holy feet, and He will forgive you. He will love you beyond your human capacity of understanding. He will help change your hearts to truly forgive.
Take a stand today to love yourself and others well by inviting Him in to help you with forgiveness.
Julie Dibble, MA is a Christian Speaker and Author who has a passion for truth. With a late-in-life transformation, Julie is forever grateful for Jesus. She and her husband Jason live in Central PA with their sons, Braedon and Jackson.
Julie writes at her blog www.juliedibblewrites.wordpress.com and has two published articles coming in Purpose Magazine.
Julie will speak to both secular and faith-based groups: MOPS and other women’s groups, retreats and conferences.
You may connect with her: