The Inability to Forgive Myself

The issue of forgiveness has been on my mind of late, and specifically the ability to forgive oneself.

This is an issue I personally struggle with and yesterday I came across this quote from C. S. Lewis:

I think that if God forgives us we must forgive ourselves. Otherwise, it is almost like setting up ourselves as a higher tribunal than Him.

Indeed.

If I cannot forgive myself then what am I saying of the power of the Cross? Not very much really. Do I have sin that is beyond the pale of God to forgive? Of course not. And yet forgiveness of myself continues to be one of the most crippling emotional factors in my life.

Another problem is that the inability to forgive oneself can beget self-hatred or self-loathing.

If I’m prone to this, can I properly love others? I’m thinking of course of “love others as you love yourself”.

I’ve mentioned forgiveness of myself being difficult previously and one commentator attributed this to inverted pride. I don’t believe – and I may be wrong -  this has anything to do with pride as I derive no sense of humility from this; false or otherwise. I do know however, this is a by-product of my own particular distorted and erroneous thinking.

Whilst writing this I’m surprised to note that I can’t think of a Scripture relating to forgiveness of oneself. Perhaps somebody could help me out with this.

Does anybody else struggle in forgiving themselves?

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7 Responses to “The Inability to Forgive Myself”

  1. Gordon Says:

    A friend of mine who is a chaplain in mental health says that a large proportion of people in mental hospital are there because they can;t forgive themselves.

  2. Val Says:

    Forgiving oneself is, in some ways, counterintuitive when it comes to venial sin. I, personally, am unable to do it very well.

    I think that it may well have something to do with resolve. I wonder sometimes if, in our subconscious minds, we are unwilling to severe a limb or pluck out an eye. I guess maybe we should even forgive ourselves for lacking complete resolve.

    For me, at least, this centers around such a mundane chore as eating. A life time of carelessness has left my body in far poorer health than I owe God and my family. I often wonder if those who smoke, drink, or eat imprudently, feel as I do. Lack of self dicipline in these areas oftimes exacerbates the problem.

    In summary, though, I know that the issue is more a lack of surrender to grace than a lack of self discipline. Moderation, for me at least, is more difficult than avoidance.

  3. Caral Says:

    Scripture verse:

    Isaiah 1:18, “Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.”

  4. Caral Says:

    From our Lord’s Prayer we are forgiven our trespasses as we forgive those that trespass against us.

    Perhaps it is trespassing against oneself which is most difficult to comprehend, as it seems so utterly foolhardy, therefore so much more difficult to forgive.

    Just a thought.

  5. Tim Says:

    Jesus tells us that we should love others as we love ourselves. Basically, he’s telling you to love yourself too, and that includes forgiving yourself.

    “…how much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?” Hebrews 9:14 (NKJV)

    You might find this website helpful to you: Forgiving Yourself

  6. Goy Says:

    That a man is not burdened by his own sin, thought that was the point of christianity or have I got it wrong.

    You are too hard on yourself webmaster.

  7. John Byron Says:

    Yes, I do as well and no, I can’t think of one.

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