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Christian Life

Bible Study: Do You Know How to Forgive Yourself?

The command to forgive is one of the toughest commands we’re asked to obey. It can be hard to forgive people who’ve hurt us, whether they did so intentionally or by mistake. Recently, however, I’ve discovered that the hardest person to forgive is myself.

Last November, one of our cats, Flash, got sick. I woke up one morning and Flash was very lethargic and touchy around his abdomen. My husband and I decided to watch him for the day to see if he got any better. If he didn’t improve, we agreed we’d take him to the vet around the corner from us the next day. He didn’t get better.

By the time we took Flash to the vet the next morning, he could barely open his eyes. He’d nearly slipped into a coma. I stood in the exam room and tried to explain through sobs what we’d noticed about Flash’s behavior and answer the doctor’s questions. Flash’s condition was serious. The doctor didn’t lie; he didn’t know if Flash would make it. We prayed.

It turned out Flash had a urinary blockage, which is extremely serious for cats. When this occurs, toxins from their urine seep into their bloodstream, effectively poisoning the blood. According to the doctor, Flash was most likely sick for 2-3 days before we brought him in; that’s a lot of time for toxins to build up. We kept praying.

The doctor ran a bunch of tests, and through antibiotic and other treatments he got the toxin levels in Flash’s body stabilized. After more than a week, we could finally bring Flash home, but the doctor told us to keep him away from our other cats for a few days to monitor his food intake and meds. The first day home, Flash ate a little, but soon he refused to eat at all. We took him back to the vet.

The vet is right around the corner from our apartment, so we visited Flash every day. The staff was great about letting us spend as much time visiting as we wanted, which was a lot. On Wednesday, December 12, we went for a quick visit before my husband left for work, but I planned to come for a longer visit later in the afternoon. I had to get home for a bit because my dad was planning to stop by.

My dad came by, dropped something off for us and asked if I wanted to go get something to eat. We went to lunch and walked around an outdoor shopping center for a while. When I got home, I was tired and had a few things I needed to do, so I decided to put off my visit to Flash until the next morning.

When I awoke the next morning, there was a voicemail on my cell phone; it was the vet. I called back right away, and a sweet veterinary assistant sadly informed me that Flash had passed away during the night. Immediately I heard this in my mind,

If you’d noticed sooner that he was sick, he might still be alive. I can’t believe you went to lunch and didn’t even go for a second visit the day Flash died.

I’ve been carrying around some heavy guilt for the past few months. I’ve felt like Flash’s death was my fault. I couldn’t forgive myself for the mistakes I told myself I’d made, and I wouldn’t let anyone else forgive me, either. I didn’t feel like I deserved to move on.

Then I heard a pastor say that God wants us to move on. God wants us to keep going, keep living, keep moving forward. The Bible says, “And I will forgive their wickedness, and I will never again remember their sins” (Jeremiah 31:34).

God says that once He forgives us, He never again brings up our sins–He “remembers them no more.” If God constantly kept our sin and guilt in front of us, we’d never get anywhere. We certainly wouldn’t be able to move forward with that stuff in the way.

I’ve had good days and bad days since Flash’s passing, but I’ve started to realize that I can’t hold myself prisoner to unforgiveness and guilt. I really don’t have the right to keep myself bound to something that God’s already forgiven me for. I hope that if any of you need to forgive yourself for something, that you’ll let God start to help you, too.

Girls, do you think it’s harder to forgive others or yourself?

More Stories Like This on Project Inspired:

Bible Study: Is God Enough?
Bible Study: Let God Be Your Shield
Bible Study: Six Important Ways the Bible Describes God’s Character

Image: iStockPhoto, ThinkStock

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13 Comments

  1. hannah1997

    Posted by hannah1997 on April 28, 2013 at 12:55

    Aww, this is so sweet! It kind of reminds me of our recent experience with the death of a pet. Kiwi was our family dog for 12 years, but about a year ago her health started going downhill. However, she made it through until November of last year. She passed away early in the morning on election day. I felt pretty bad because the night before I had barely wanted to touch her because she drooling a lot, but I told myself that I’d give her a full good-bye in the morning. So, it was very sad to wake up and find out she had been gone for an hour already. But what this story really reminds me of is my mom. She was quite attached to Kiwi, and still cries about her. Mom feels that Kiwi’s death was her fault still sometimes because she waited to take her to the vet to put her down. I’m so glad to know that others have these same feelings about things like these – thank you for this post!

  2. lilygaraymusic

    Posted by lilygaraymusic on March 31, 2013 at 16:10

    I so needed this today! For about a year and a half now i’ve been struggling with guilt and not forgiving myself , but this entire past week I have made monumental steps to forgiving myself 🙂 Thanks again!

  3. jinglebells

    Posted by jinglebells on March 26, 2013 at 16:52

    Thanks so much for this. Jesus has been really speaking to me and has really helped me to forgive. This past year I just really have had to forgive many people, even myself

  4. Peacegurl1960

    Posted by Peacegurl1960 on March 22, 2013 at 19:19

    made me think so much posted it on facebook too.

  5. worship

    Posted by worship on March 21, 2013 at 16:19

    I am a perfectionist, so whenever I make a mistake (which is often), I get so mad at myself, even if everyone else has moved on! It is really comforting to know that God cares about us with all His heart, even when we really mess up. I am so glad to have such a wonderful God!

  6. Deeblves3

    Posted by Deeblves3 on March 21, 2013 at 13:15

    I think it’s harder to forgive myself sometimes. I’m much easier on others than myself as I’ve noticed, but I’m trusting that God is helping me to each day and realizing that I can forgive myself too when God can.

    • Posted by JennArman on March 21, 2013 at 13:48

      Deeblves3, one thing that’s important to remember is that we don’t know better than God. If God forgives us, it doesn’t really make sense for us to feel like we can’t forgive ourselves. Make sure that you remember to give yourself some grace 🙂

  7. ilovedogs18

    Posted by ilovedogs18 on March 21, 2013 at 12:58

    I really needed this. I think that it is harder to forgive yourself than other people. My grandmother passed Aug. 30, 2011 and every since then I have blamed myself and I cannot forgive myself. I really needed this thank you so much.

    • Posted by JennArman on March 21, 2013 at 13:46

      ilovedogs18, I’m so sorry to hear about your grandmother. My husband just lost his grandmother on Sunday and it’s been very hard on him. I will be praying for God to show you how He would like you to forgive yourself and keep living your life. I know the pain is so hard and the guilt can be so heavy, but God never meant for guilt to be a burden that His people carry.

  8. lovetodance

    Posted by lovetodance on March 21, 2013 at 12:19

    Thank you so much for posting this! I needed that today 🙂

    • Posted by JennArman on March 21, 2013 at 13:52

      lovetodance, I’m so glad that God could encourage you with this today! 🙂

  9. IdaPahus

    Posted by IdaPahus on March 21, 2013 at 10:15

    Well written Jenn!! I have had a really hard time forgiving my bullies…But it can also be hard to forgive myself sometimes!!!

    • Posted by JennArman on March 21, 2013 at 13:52

      Thank you Ida! It can certainly be hard to forgive bullies because they say and do things that really affect our self confidence and sometimes even our trust of other people. I’m terribly sad to hear that you’ve been bullied. I was bullied in elementary school and I was so afraid that I cried every day because I didn’t want to go to school. I’ll be praying that God brings to your life, complete healing from what you experienced. <3