I realize more and more how much difficulty I have forgiving myself and receiving forgiveness. I find it, plain and simple, a hard and painful thing to do. I know many people who can relate to this dilemma. There are some things about forgiving myself I have thought and prayed about and experienced quite personally; and there are others that will only come through surrender, prayer and trust.
I understand the paradox of forgiving myself. I understand that when I do not forgive myself two distinct things are simultaneously occurring: I am, in essence, blocking God’s forgiveness and setting my standards of forgiveness above those of God’s standards. The first is selfish (and self pity), the second is idolatry.
When I stand in front of the mirror and look at the man I am, I mean really look hard I am confronted by a variety of paradoxes. I am a wounded man who is called to be a healer. I am a fallen man who feels called to ministry. I am an addict who is struggling with recovery. I am a man who has done many years of ministry for God. I am a 44 year old man with not much to show for in the way of ‘success’. I am a man who has made certain choices that may lead to severe legal consequences. And I am a man who has destroyed many relationships I hold dear and not to mention quite a few burned bridges (addicts and broken people are infamous for burning bridges while still trying to cross over them).
But when all of these paradoxes are seen through the lens of the Greatest Paradox, I am set free. And the Greatest Paradox is this: in (and through) Jesus, every single screw up, every wound, every single sin, every moment of evil, pain, or dread I have felt or caused is Forgiven.
I know that not all the consequences of my paradoxical nature are taken away or erased, but I know that in Jesus there is no more condemnation and that the pain and suffering of unforgiveness and sin is washed away when I hear the words from Jesus, “My son you are forgiven.” (See Mark 2:5)