Forgiving Ourselves

 Hello and welcome to the Wordsmith Studio Non-Fiction blog!  The writers in non-fiction  group cover many different genres.  On this blog, you will find writers who write about their area of writing but also will share their work in their chosen area.  You may find a blog about the art of writing a memoir or you may find a memoir piece.  Today, Kirra Antrobus is sharing a post in her area of writing, Christian Inspirational.  

 

 

 My ninth grade English teacher had a passion for the written word, but few students appreciated her attempts at making good grammarians and writers of us.  Usually she dealt more with discipline than she did with nouns and adverbs.

 

Color rushed to my cheeks the day Miss Williams caught me cheating.  I knew cheating was wrong, and I would have never copied someone else’s work.  Even so, it was hard for me to say no when Amy (name changed), the girl who sat behind me, sometimes asked for my “help” when she didn’t finish her homework.  One afternoon, she found my paper sitting on the wrong desk.

 

“Why does she have your paper?” she asked me.

 

I mumbled some reply, knowing there was no good answer.  She took both of us to the hall, and she lectured us on the wrongness of cheating and the consequences of those actions.

 

We returned to the classroom with down-turned eyes and zeros on the assignment.  Not only was I embarrassed, but I was angry with Amy for asking me to cheat and myself for allowing her to.

 

I doubted that I would ever redeem myself, and even now, years later, I feel embarrassed and guilty when I think of it.

 

 In spite of this, Miss Williams saw something that she liked in me.  On the last day of school that year, she asked to speak with me.  Still feeling the sting of that one afternoon, I met her just before I left the building.  She presented me a book filled with blank pages.

 

“A teacher gave me a book like this once,” she said.  “It opened doors for me in my writing.  I hope it does for you as well.”

 

I spoke a soft, humbled thank you.  She smiled and turned to go.  I left school that year with a lesson learned that was unrelated to the English she prodded us with each day in class.

 

Ephesians 1:7-8 says, “In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace which He lavished on us” (NASB).  Jesus’ death offers us forgiveness, but sometimes we are unwilling to forgive ourselves for what God has already forgiven us of.  We continue to bludgeon ourselves because of the personal guilt we feel over our sins.

 

Micah praised God for His forgiveness in his book.  “Who is a God like You, who pardons iniquity and passes over the rebellious act of the remnant of His possession?  He does not retain His anger forever, because He delights in unchanging love.  He will again have compassion on us; He will tread our iniquities under foot.  Yes, You will cast all their sins into the depths of the sea” (7:18-19).  God wants to forgive us!  He wants to show mercy and remove our sins far from us.  The gospels are full of people who Jesus showed forgiveness.

 

John 8:1-11 tells one of these stories.  The Pharisees brought to Jesus a woman whom they caught in adultery.  The Pharisees were hoping to bookend Jesus between two bad choices.  If He said to forgive the woman, it would have gone against the Jewish law written in scripture.  If He approved of stoning her, which was illegal according to the Roman rule they were living under, He would have found Himself in trouble with the Roman government.

 

But the Pharisees still did not understand who it was they were up against – God incarnate.   Jesus answered the Pharisees with a statement that turned their trap over on top of them.

 

“If any of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.”

 

The Pharisees, beginning with the older men, walked away because they knew that Jesus had bested them again.

 

Even though Jesus put a stop to this attempted entrapment, He knew that the woman was indeed guilty and had sin that needed dealing with.

 

“Woman, where are they?” He asked her.  “Has no one condemned you?”

 

She saw that those who had surrounded her as an angry mob were no longer there.

 

“No one, sir,” she said to Jesus.

 

Then Jesus said the sweetest words the woman had likely ever heard:  “Then neither do I condemn you.”  Jesus said to her, “Go now, and leave your life of sin.”  Jesus prevented the Pharisees from enacting punishment for the sin she had committed, and He, the only one who could punish her, forgave her.

 

We don’t know what the rest of this woman’s life looked like, but we would hope that she took the gift Jesus gave her and went on to live a life that followed after God.  Jesus offered her a fresh start, but what if she decided to wallow in the sin she had committed?  She could consider herself already damaged by her sin and continue in the life she had been leading.  She could follow after Jesus, begging Him to punish her for her sin.  She could chase after the Pharisees and cry out to them for her own stoning.  What did she do with the forgiveness Jesus gave to her?

 

Kirra Antrobus is a Christian writer in west Texas who blogs at www.kirraantrobus.blogspot.com/p/welcome.html.  

8 comments for “Forgiving Ourselves

  1. November 13, 2012 at 1:40 pm

    Personal forgiveness is difficult because we live with the consequences of our choices. The constant reminder of a poor choice feeds our self-condemnation and I often have to remind myself that forgiveness may not always be a one-time event. Thanks for highlighting this universal issue, Kirra.

    • November 13, 2012 at 9:26 pm

      Our actions have consequences, but we have to keep moving forward, letting God redeem our mistakes and sins. I’m terrible about holding on to things and feeling guilty about things, even things other people have likely already forgotten.

  2. November 13, 2012 at 11:52 pm

    The Yoga Sutras tell of a mind-calming technique originally from the Buddhist tradition but also incorporated into yogic practices.Basically it is saying that being compassionate to all things/beings whether they deserve it or not and that includes oneself. Especially oneself. Indeed, Janice, it is a universal issue.

    (I.33) maitrī-karuṇā- muditā-upekṣāṇāṃ sukha-duḥkha-puṇya-apuṇya-viṣayāṇāṃ bhāvanātaś- citta-prasādanam

    The projection of friendliness, compassion, gladness and equanimity towards objects—[be they] joyful, sorrowful, meritorious or demeritorious—[bring about] the pacification of consciousness. (Feuerstein, 1979:47-48)

    • November 14, 2012 at 12:35 am

      Many of us try to be kind to others, but we fail to be kind to ourselves! You’re definitely right. Jesus said to love your neighbor as yourself, but if we’re not loving ourselves (in a healthy, realistic way, not arrogantly), we really aren’t able to love others well.

  3. November 14, 2012 at 2:36 am

    A very nice post, Kirra. Forgiveness is very essential in one’s life and we usually focus on the ability to forgive others, and more seldom – ourselves. Often that forgiveness is the hardest to give. And a person who is harsh to oneself lives a very hard life. Thanks for reminding us of this, Kirra.

    • Kirra Antrobus
      November 14, 2012 at 6:48 pm

      I know I find it so much easier to forgive other people for things they’ve done to me than things I’ve done to others or myself. It’s hard to let go of those regrets. And I think not forgiving ourselves damages relationships as much as not forgiving others.

  4. Amanda Socci
    November 14, 2012 at 4:58 am

    Kirra, an excellent post. I loved how you incorporated scripture into a story of a personal situation that happpened to you. I had known about the concept of forgiveness of sins for most of my life, due to Catholic school teachings, but it wasn’t until I heard the words of Joel Osteen that the words really hit home. Beautifully written. Thanks for sharing.

    • Kirra Antrobus
      November 14, 2012 at 6:53 pm

      I think most of us know about forgiveness, but we don’t really understand it entirely. I’ve always heard that Jesus understands temptation more than we do because He dealt with it to its full extent, rather than giving in like we do. In the same way, Jesus understands forgiveness more than we ever could, because He forgives so entirely, while we tend to hold on to resentment and regret. Any chance to understand it and practice it a little better is a good thing for certain.

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