All the rules about forgiveness are doubly true when it comes to forgiveness of self. Many addicts experience such guilt about their addictions that forgiving themselves is the last thing they think about, but often the most important for true healing.
Note from the author:
After years of recovery, I felt the forgiveness of God as well as of my wife. But I came to realize that I had not yet forgiven myself. Forgiving myself for all the damage I caused to my family and the families of those I had affairs with was only part of the problem. For much of my life, I actually believed that my mother loved me because she was supposed to, not because I was worthy of it. I believed that there was something wrong with me and I didn’t deserve her love. By believing this, I created emotional distance from all those in my life—parents, spouse, kids, and especially God, as I believed I wasn’t worthy of anyone’s love. It wasn’t until I realized that I needed to forgive myself for believing this lie (and it was a lie for me, just as it is for you if you believe this about yourself) that I began to get free of the deepest root of all. It was also explained to me by a priest that since God has forgiven me for all I had done that if I didn’t’ forgive myself, that essentially means I am putting myself above God. This becomes a sin of pride because I believe that my sins are greater than God’s mercy. WOW! Was that insight enlightening! We are called to accept God’s mercy and to forgive ourselves
I will tell you that this above event with a priest was several years ago during my recovery. I honestly thought that I had also forgiven myself. But it wasn’t until an experience in the confessional at a recent healing conference that God revealed to me that I had not completely forgiven myself. I was in fact holding on to the past. What the priest said to me in the confessional hit me like a ton of bricks and I felt called to share it with the thousands that I connect with in the apostolate.
This is what happened,
After confessing my sins, in kind of an abbreviated “general confession” the priest said to me “Absolve you of all your sins. They are gone. Do NOT go back to the tomb looking for them, there is nothing there, It is empty!. Go and live in the resurrection”
There was a freedom that came over that had never happened before. At that moment, I realized that in the past years that I “thought” I had forgiven myself, I was actually holding on to the tomb. And that was preventing me from living in the resurrection that Christ desired for me. He has redeemed me, but I wasn’t living like He had.
So, in addition to last my previous article [Healing inner brokenness – forgiveness part 1 – forgiveness of others] a step of self forgiveness should be added for all of us.
Building from the previous article, (you’ll need to read it), make a list of all those that hurt you in any way, so the forgiveness prayer and add the self-forgiveness piece.
Forgiveness prayer from last time:
Lord, I choose to forgive ___________________ for the action of __________________ that triggered me to feel ______________, and contributed to my present identity of ____________. I release this person from any power he or she holds over me in generating my hurt feelings. Lord, I give you permission to take the judgment and the bitterness out of my life. I surrender it to You and ask You to remove it and to heal me where I have been wounded. I surrender my right to be paid back for my loss by the one who sinned against me, and by doing so I declare my trust in God alone as my Righteous Judge.
Add for self-forgiveness
Lord, I ask for your forgiveness in my choosing to react to this person, resulting in my actions of __________________, and I choose to FORGIVE MYSELF for reacting this way. I choose to recognize that you emptied my tomb of sins and that they are gone. I commit to living as your redeemed beloved child and to live in my resurrection of Your forgiveness.
In Jesus’ name, Amen.
This final step of self-forgiveness is the most powerful for freedom. The freedom that Christ desires for us. It truly opens the door for graces that we never knew were there.
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