The Lord had predicted it. “Three times you will deny me,” He told Peter. Peter just could not believe that it would be true. Then it came true. Peter was confronted by the crowds as Jesus was being taken to be crucified. He demanded that he did not know Jesus. And at that exact moment, Jesus turned from where he was and found Peter in the crowd and looked right at him.
Have you ever done anything so horrible that you just can’t let it go? Inflicting such great pain on those you love makes it very difficult to forgive yourself. Horrible decisions, harsh words, and wayward actions can leave us deep in the pits of self-anger. I imagine this is how Peter must have felt. How do you move past it? How do you move forward?
As believers, we know that we are forgiven. We know that God loves us. But I think sometimes, the issue is not that we are afraid that God has not forgiven us, but we don’t know how to forgive ourself. Self-condemnation ensues and dominates our thoughts. When Peter and Jesus meet against after the resurrection of Christ, Jesus asks Peter three times, “Do you love me?” Each time Peter affirmed his love for Christ. Then Jesus gave him three different commands, “Feed my lambs.” “Take care of my sheep.” “Feed my sheep.”
Perhaps, this is the key to forgiving self. Go and make it right. I don’t know if we ever forget what we have done and maybe any time these memories rise in our mind, there will be a sense of anger or remorse. But even though these memories might visit and re-visit, I will come closer to forgiving myself for what I have done if I work hard to do all I can to make things right. Scripture calls it restitution. I go out of my way to bless those I have hurt. I work tirelessly to overcome horrible decisions and harsh words.
My motivation for going the extra mile to make things right is born out of the forgiveness I have received from the Lord. Because He forgives me of such dark sin, my gratefulness to Him creates a desire within me to do more for Him and thus, for others. I move myself from the look of disappointment from Christ such as Peter experienced to hearing the Lord’s voice declaring, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”
I hope in Heaven, I will be physically able to forget my worst mistakes and sins. I hope. They still pain me deeply. I want to cut that part of my life out and toss it away into the garbage, but it remains. Comfort and ease from this pain though is found when I do all I can to make things right. Apologies, good deeds, displays of affection, all ease the pain and work toward healing. We are free and forgiven by Christ. Let us do all we can to make things right. And let us work hard to release ourselves from self-condemnation.
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