Thursday, January 11, 2007

Forgiving yourself

Great article from Catholic Exchange. I don't know about you, but this is something I have often struggled with. Even though I go to confession and I know that God has forgiven me for my sins (well, once I do the penance :) ), it can still be hard to tell myself that I'm forgiven and not go back and confess it again, saying "wait, no, I'm really sorry. I don't think you get how badly I screwed it up."


On a recent episode of 7th Heaven, Rev. Eric Camden had suffered a heart attack and made a temporary sojourn in heaven. While there, he was able to pick out some non-traditional gifts for his children. For his oldest daughter Mary, he chose an eraser which would allow her to forget some of the mistakes of her past, thereby allowing her to stop compounding those mistakes.

What a wonderful gift! Who among us wouldn't like to forget some of the things we have done or failed to do in our lives? We know we can always seek God's forgiveness for our mistakes. In the Sacrament of Reconciliation, we have the opportunity to be washed clean. Jesus suffered and died to save us from our sins. We know that if we approach God with true contrition, forgiveness is ours for the asking.

Human forgiveness is not always so easy to obtain. There are amends to make to those whom we have hurt. Sometimes, sadly, there are consequences of our actions that cannot be changed. We simply have to move on and make the best of our wounded relationships.

Perhaps the hardest forgiveness to come by is the forgiveness of ourselves. Memory is a wonderful thing. It allows us to look back and recall all those different threads that have come together to weave the fabric of our lives. Over the years, the bad times also seem to recess in importance thereby making it easier to forgive others who have hurt us in our lives. And yet, we do seem to remember the times we have hurt others. We remember our bad choices, harsh words we may have spoken in anger, and times that we just chose to walk away rather than take action. Perhaps remembering these things does serve a purpose in that, hopefully, we won't repeat the same error. But once we have sought and received God's forgiveness, we need to make an effort to forgive ourselves. Our mistakes have brought us where we are and there is nothing so bad in our lives that God can't bring some good out of it. We need to put the past behind us and move forward from where we are, trusting that God is there to guide our steps.

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