“Don’t worry about it.”
“It no longer matters.”
“I forgive you.”
Those five sentences are some of the most powerful any person can ever hope to hear. Guilt, grief, regret, and sorrow are four things most people experience at some time in their lives. They can be four of the most destructive feelings, or they can be four of the most motivating and transformative.
Most of us have done things we feel bad about. We can let that consume us to the point of being overcome by negative emotions and actions, or we can learn from them and change our actions, accepting forgiveness for ourselves from self and from others.
I remember having a friend (one of few) at a daycare I went to when I was little. We played together a bunch. He was a few years younger than me. One day while we were out on the playground, he crossed the fence and went onto the adjoining field. The lady that watched us yelled for him from the house to come back. I remember standing by the fence calling at him as well. He came back, and as he crossed over into the yard, I spanked him and fussed at him. The lady that watched us stopped me though, and I wound up in trouble myself for what I’d done to him. I don’t remember us ever being friends after that.
I look back at this and it bothers me. It has ever sense it happened. It’s not the worst thing I’ve ever done, but I use it now to get a point across: people can be bothered by things they did so many years ago, and from such a young age (I was probably only six or seven), that probably all others have no recollection at all about. I seriously doubt that young boy, the lady that watched us, or any of the other kids remember what happened at all. And yet, I do, and it’s something I have felt regret about.
The wrongs that we do always have consequences. Some are worse than others. Knowing there can be forgiveness though, is one of the best things we can have. Whether we’re offered forgiveness from others, or forgive ourselves, or get it from God, forgiveness has the power to transform so much about us. When we have forgiveness, this transformation is for the good, freeing us to move forward in life. When we do not have forgiveness, however, this transformation can be for the bad, holding us back or causing us to commit further wrongs.
Sin is so very dangerous. When we sin we stain our souls in such a way that none of us could ever imagine. Even the smallest of sins has the power to destroy everything about us. God knows this. He knows how much damage we cause ourselves and others. And yet He loves us enough to forgive us. He loves us enough to have offered himself as a payment for our sins. How greater a gift could any of us ever hope to have? It is the best gift, forgiveness. It is one that to not accept is so incredibly sad.
I’ll admit, in the past, forgiving myself has been the hardest thing for me to do. I’ve held many things over my head for years, and struggled mercilessly to stop doing. What helps when someone does this is to start out with accepting and knowing that God truly does offer forgiveness. When you accept Christ into your life, all those wrongs are washed away, forgotten, put aside. They’re no longer held against you. If God can do that for you, then surely you can do that for yourself.
When we accept forgiveness, we feel the weight of that sin leave us forever. When we accept forgiveness, we no longer have to carry that burden which has held us down. It’s gone.
Imagine how much freer we’d all feel if we could accept forgiveness, in all of its forms, at all times.
How much better off would you be?