Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Un-Forgiving Myself









Years ago, when I was home alone all day with two little boys and desperate for adult interaction, I attended a Beth Moore Bible study course on The Fruit of the Spirit.  A pastor's wife led the group of fifteen women, weekly gathered round our Bibles and the edges of the square conference table.   I was the only Catholic in the room and a brand new one at that.  Luckily, that was of no consequence, as we shared our personal struggles freely and supported one another in our efforts to more fully understand Galatians 5:22-23(NLT).


But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives:
 Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Faithfulness, Gentleness, and Self-control.


          There is no law against these!


I learned so much during those discussions but one statement the leader made has never left me.  


One particular mom was tearfully sharing how much she regretted some of her mistakes as a parent.  Yelling at her children, being sarcastic with them, generally "losing it" when pressures built up and she exploded, taking her stress out on her little ones.   She said, "I just cannot forgive myself for what I have done to them!"


Ever so calmly the pastor's wife laid a comforting hand over the mom's clenched fist and said, "Nowhere in the Bible are we told to forgive ourselves.  That is God's job."



Immediately, I had thought of the Sacrament of Confession in the Catholic church.  So often criticized by outsiders, including myself not so long ago, I suddenly understood the amazing  grace offered to us through this ritual. We aren't responsible for forgiving ourselves because that would take forever.  We are humanly incapable of such a divine act.  Relief flooded me.  I needn't resent the confessional any longer.  It was God's way of reaching out His fatherly hand to me and whispering, "Come.  Let it go.  I can take it from here."  


There is such freedom in forgiveness.  Even if you are not Catholic and prefer to pray away your sins in private, God still forgives.  A priest just helps make it more tangible - a witness to God's gracious act.  And most importantly, God expects you to receive it, freely, with gratitude and humility.  Accepting that gift can be the hardest part.  Instead of saying, "Oh no, you shouldn't have" and thrusting the gift back toward the Giver, try opening your hands, letting the grace of forgiveness fill your palms to over-flowing and say, 


                      "Thank you.  Thank you.  Thank you.  It's just what I needed."








Women Living Well Wednesdays



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12 comments:

  1. What a beautiful post on forgiveness. Thanks for sharing it!

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  2. " ...God expects you to receive it, freely, with gratitude and humility ..."
    The hard part! To realize that we are worthy.
    We need wise women like you, blogging, telling us over and over again that this is what God wants from us!
    Thank you!

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  3. You've shared your heart beautifully Misty. I too have gone through Beth Moore's Bible study. I was raised Catholic in my youth. I've chosen to worship in a Bible fellowship as an adult. I think the concern is that we not think that we NEED an intercessor other than Jesus, or penance to please God.

    We are sisters in Christ and made that way by the cross. Only God knows the heart of a man. I believe that just as it is His job to forgive, it is the Holy Spirit that prompts us to love. His body (us) needs to love Him first and then each other...

    Love ya sis! Debbie

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  4. I loved that Beth Moore study. Your words are so true. Thanks for sharing!

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  5. The difficulty with accepting forgiveness is that memories bring back the guilt and the hurt.

    God bless.

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  6. Thank You for sharing these wise, true words.

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  7. I have just found your blog and am enjoying reading it.

    I will be back.

    It is lovely


    Fiona @Raindrops & Daisies. (Ireland)

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  8. Dear Misty,
    This is really a wonderful story you've shared! Catholic sweetness, isn't it? Thank you!

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  9. I join you from Ann's blog.
    You wrote a very powerful devotion. Thank you for being a tool in His hands!

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  10. Wow! Where would we be without God forgiving us? Thanks for your story and your insights!

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  11. Beautiful post, Misty! I'm glad I took the time to read it. So true. I do think so many people are way too hard on themselves. I love St. Therese of Lisieux, who I'm learning so much about through "Everything is Grace". She knew how incapable she was - she knew that she could not be great, like St. Joan of Arc, she just knew that she could do her best in all her little things and love God.

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~Grace and peace to you~

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