For years now, I have been aware of the mandate to forgive those who hurt me. This head knowledge hadn’t fully informed my heart yet. I was offended often, and quick to tell the other person how I would forgive them and not walk in unforgiveness. I desired to be free from resentment and hatred. But I was chained to unforgiveness because of my ignorance.

I didn’t recognize this fault for years. I was walking through life, offering a mental assent of forgiveness to any and all, but experiencing none of the freedom and none of the joy of release. Layer upon layer of anger was laid within me and bottled up. I was just waiting for someone to mess with me so I could unleash years of wrath upon someone and feel released.

Another thing that ties us to the past is unforgiveness. Unforgiveness causes us to waste our lives trying to get even instead of fulfilling our own destiny by walking in our call. It is important that we forgive all those that sinned against us so we can be free to go on with our lives. It is also crucial that we learn to forgive ourselves for our own sins.  – Bill Johnson

We are trapped in the past by unforgiveness. We despise someone for hurting us, but we can’t stop focusing on it. We make major life decisions to prove that we are different, but since we don’t know what a different person feels like, but rather we are now experts at what it feels like to be the person who hurt us, we become that which we focus upon.

At one point, some of my ugly sin became public knowledge among family members. I was humiliated and ashamed of my weakness, but God intervened in his mercy. He spoke to me quickly and said, “You need to forgive yourself.” It wasn’t a thought I could have generated at that point, so I assumed it was God.

My response to God was, “Okay, God. But I don’t know how to do this. I choose to forgive myself of this sin (and I named it to him) and release myself from the penalties I think I deserve. Help me to truly forgive myself as I make this choice.”

Within seconds, relief flooded my soul. My burdens felt much, much lighter! I learned that day that unforgiveness had chained me to a behavior that I was doomed to repeat. I could not stop what I was doing because I had never forgiven myself for my sin.

Why would that affect me so? Because in my unforgiveness, I “knew” that I deserved to be punished, and I would never allow myself to feel like a good person when complimented or when good things happened because on the inside I was trying to pay a penance that would never end until my behavior changed. And my behavior couldn’t change by itself.

Once I forgave myself, I was no longer doomed to repeat my sins. The self-restraints had been lifted. Peace and holiness became possible.

If this speaks to you, humble yourself right now by closing your eyes and asking God to show you what you need to forgive yourself of. If you already know, because the Spirit of God has illuminated something in your life while you were reading this, just obey Him by making the choice of your will to forgive yourself, as I did. Then ask God to truly help you forgive, since you need His power to do so.

May God richly bless you.

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