Forgiving Yourself

Photo by Jason Rosewell on Unsplash

Yesterday I was out in Franklin for a soccer game. I set my chair down at midfield. Another individual came who was cheering for the same team and set some chairs down to my left. The conversation went as follows.

“Can we move closer to the playing area?”

“Sure, it’s a free country.” I said.

I had to forgive myself for doing that. I know it was wrong because it wasn’t said in love. You see, I thought it was an ignorant question, and even though it was I know my motive behind my reply, and it wasn’t love. I didn’t ask for forgiveness from the individual I said it to because they would have said oh no problem, and they would have pretended it didn’t bother them. I suppose that’s how they would have responded, but I guess that’s pure conjecture.

Point is I had to forgive myself for saying it. I’m still thinking about the rude remark 24 hours later because I know what I did was wrong. I may have been right, but I was wrong. Just because you can do something doesn’t mean you should. Motive, attitude and behavior are so important.

The Bible says we are to captivate every thought and make it obedient to Christ. I don’t think that means we walk around on egg shells all day long, but I do think I need to be careful how I think, talk and act a bit more. That old poem you’re familiar with is appropriate here.

Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.

That’s the biggest lie isn’t it? We know better. I know better because I know how words can lead to very negative outcomes including death. Look at Hagar and Sarah. Because of their heated exchange thousands of years ago we are affected today because of what goes on between Palestine and Israel.

What you think, say and do have consequences, and if you don’t hold them in check sometimes bridges are burned forever.

As today began I headed to my first stop to fulfill my responsibilities there, and then I stopped by Hardee’s to get everyone breakfast. I did some dishes and folded clothes, and then I headed to my second stop. As I went out to my car Chloe came out to hug me again, and I’ve thought about that several times today.

David took me to Uncle Bud’s for my birthday tonight, and we had a great time as usual. It struck me again that relationships are what are most important in life. Sometimes we ask Chloe at the dinner table what she learned at school that day, and as one who has been the recipient of that question I’ve responded as she has on many occasions, “Not much.” I think it’s in the mundane, repetitive things that happen everyday that we learn the most.

Before we went to dinner at Uncle Bud’s I stopped by Black Dog Books to speak with Amy for awhile. I also didn’t want to eat lunch by myself. Relationships have always been at the center of who I am. My family of origin was a tight knit group, and even after my brothers and I left the nest we have maintained a strong connection. We take brother’s retreats when there’s money in the bank, and our “bosses” let us go, but even when we gather for things like Thanksgiving it’s as if not a day has passed. Deep significant relationships where deep meaningful words are shared develop strong ties that not even death can remove. I still remember my grandparents, their example, their love, their concern, and their knowledge and wisdom.

As I crossed the line at the soccer game with that individual I know what I did was wrong. We cannot expect to go through life without fallout. Somehow we get this idea that we can dot every i and cross every t, but reality shows us a different result. It’s important to learn to forgive ourselves and forgive others. I’m going to offer up a third kind of forgiveness because I think He can take it. Forgive God.

Forgiveness is not really about the perpetrator. It’s about the inward journey we are on as we lean into being healthy productive individuals. Weigh your thoughts. Just because you think something doesn’t mean you have to verbalize it, much less act upon it. We think a thousand different things a day, but thank God we don’t act on every one.

I’m as weak as you when it comes to returning evil for evil. I really struggle with that, but I think posts like this embolden my faith to forgive. I’m not going to tell you this post is going to cure my anger addiction because I know it’s not. I do know that the more I share my struggle with ungodly anger the softer my heart becomes, and the less likely I’m going to act out on my outrage. We have a strong sense of “fairness” as Americans, and sometimes we think our angry outbursts will change someone. They don’t. It compounds the problem and makes matters worse. We have service men and women who have job security because of this lack of self-control in our world.

A better world doesn’t begin with changing someone else.

It begins when I decide to forgive myself. The consequence of not doing that will be hell for many people.

Stop believing the lie that you can say and do whatever you want because it may not be what that other person needs or wants.

I have two ears and one mouth, and I’m going to try and use them proportionally beginning tomorrow.


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