The other night I sat in bed having my meditation time with God and within seconds I felt him tell me that I forgot to mention something in my blog post. When I wrote that sometimes there are hindrances to hearing God’s voice I had the sense I was forgetting something. I knew there had to be more than two things that hinder us from hearing God. I had wrote that having a spirit of ingratitude and harbouring un-forgiveness towards someone can put up a blockage to hearing God. Now here I was alone with God who was reminding me of my own blockage I had. For quite a long time I struggled with not being able to forgive myself for something I had done which caused pain to others. I had never meant to cause anyone pain. I didn’t think it would cause pain. Sadly, the damage done was big and I could not forgive myself for it. I wanted desperately to go back in time and undo what I had done somehow but of course I couldn’t. And because I couldn’t forgive myself, I couldn’t feel God’s forgiveness. Mentally I knew that God does forgive but I felt I was probably excluded from God’s forgiveness. Mentally I still believed God loved me but I felt maybe He loved me a little… less now. I kept reminding myself of bible verses and stories of people who were forgiven by God but it seemed to me that mainly the stories were of people who hadn’t had a relationship with God when they had done wrong and so God is probably more merciful to them. I struggled for a long time with holding onto my faith and still trying to grow spiritually. I read lots of books. I tried to pray but I definitely prayed less than I used to. For a long time I couldn’t go to church. Going to church was hard because I would sit there praying that I wouldn’t cry or that no one could see me crying. My spirituality has always been (aside from my family) the most important thing in my life. I was holding on by a thread. I kept asking God for forgiveness and then not believing that he forgave me. I didn’t feel his presence anymore. I couldn’t hear his voice either. Surely, that was proof that God didn’t forgive me.
The breakthrough happened years later and I am sorry but I don’t remember what specifically it was that finally got me believing that God did forgive me. It was something that was said in church one Sunday. The change was quick and dramatic. I began to hear God speak to me again. My heart began to expand again. I was smiling and loving perfect strangers that crossed my path. You see, the reason I couldn’t sense God wasn’t because He was keeping himself from me and didn’t forgive me. It was my disbelief that God could forgive me that put up the blockage between us. George MacDonald (and incidentally my favourite author) said, ’Forgiveness is the giving, and so the receiving, of life’. I can definitely confirm that without feeling forgiveness, it is so difficult to receive life into your spirit.
Charles H. Brent said, ‘Peace comes when there is no cloud between us and God. Peace is the consequence of forgiveness, God’s removal of that which obscures His face and so breaks union with Him’. It is BOTH not forgiving others and not forgiving ourselves that puts this cloud between us and God. It feels like it has been a lot of wasted years of my life not being able to be as close to God as I once was. Still on the other hand, I still feel remorse and maybe on some other level I needed to feel this pain for as long as I did. I now feel God’s forgiveness. I am on the way to forgiving myself to the extent that I am trying not to dwell on it but it doesn’t mean I will ever condone what I did or that God condones what I did. When I forgive others, I don’t condone what they have done. I just choose to believe they did the best they could in the circumstances they were in and I just let it go. Nobody knows me better than God. God knows and understands what I was about at that time. God’s love is big and therefore he forgives big. C.S. Lewis said, “To be a Christian means to forgive the inexcusable because God has forgiven the inexcusable in you.” Forgiving ourselves means believing God has forgiven us. It is an act of faith and trust in God and it is just as important as forgiving others.
Psalm 103:8-12 The LORD is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love. He will not always chide, nor will he keep his anger forever. He does not deal with us according to our sins, nor repay us according to our iniquities. For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us. That bible passage is so reassuring on so many levels. He doesn’t repay us according to our iniquities? Our own government laws do of course so it would be easy to think God would as well. He doesn’t however, in fact that is yet proof again of His undying love for us.
Colossians 3:12-14 : Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. It is so important to have a heart of gratitude towards God for forgiving us. Likewise, we must forgive others the same way which can also be an act of gratitude.
Today and every day I am grateful that God forgave me and breathed life back into my soul.