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?
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