Pastoral Post 1.17.2020 | Rev. Becky Brown "Does Our Faith Tell Us to Forgive Ourselves?"

Does our faith tell us to forgive ourselves?

By Rev Becky Brown

I read somewhere that today is “national break your resolution” day.  It wasn’t a reliable source.  I’m sure it was something that popped up in my feed in Instagram - Eat this delectable ice cream!  After all, today is “national break your resolution” day.  It reminded me of how many people create hopeful and lofty New Years Resolutions, and how many of those resolutions are broken by now, less than a month into the new year.

Resolutions are wonderful things.  The self-reflection involved in creating them is a valuable journey to take.  Making a commitment to become a better version of yourself is an important step to take.  However, just before these resolutions become a habit, sometimes we find that we have already failed.  That’s such a defeated feeling.  Then you’re left at a crossroads - continue down the road to self-betterment, or forget about it?

When I was in my 20s, I had a New Years resolution to begin flossing my teeth daily.  The dentist always said that flossing is important, especially for someone like myself with soft teeth that are prone to cavities.  Every 6 months at my cleaning, I would hear those words, and vow to do better.  I took that tiny box of dental floss, and made it happen.  It lasted a couple days at most.  So, as I got older and realized I would have to pay for my own dental visits, I decided to make the huge commitment.  So, I bought a larger box of floss, and went for it on Jan. 1.  I sound like such a baby, but it was SO HARD!  I hated flossing.  Adding that extra 45 seconds to my morning routine was beyond inconvenient.  I had to force myself, every morning, for weeks to floss.  Then, came the fateful day when I forgot.  I realized it later that day, and I came to that crossroads.  Should I just give it all up?  Break that resolution?  I mean, why not?  I’ve already failed, and its not even February yet.  My streak is broken, its already ruined.

I wonder if the real question was, “Can I forgive myself for failing?”  Forgiveness is always hard.  Every single time.  Yet, I feel forgiving yourself is much harder than forgiving others.  I mean, where is the evidence that you have forgiven yourself?  Does it directly impact the closest relationships in your life?  Absolutely, it does.  Forgiving ourselves is just as important because it leads us on the path to wholeness and even holiness.

Whenever forgiveness is mentioned in the Bible, it is often presented as a mandate to forgive others as God has forgiven you.  This reminder that we, ourselves, have been forgiven by God is valuable.  When God forgives, God hopes that we forgive ourselves as well.  There’s no need to hang on to the guilt and self-loathing that comes along with the disappointment of failure.  When God forgives, we start fresh and anew.

Ephesians 4:31-32

Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.

I eventually forgave myself for failing to remember to floss my teeth.  The next morning I began a new day and flossed.  I still floss.  And, some days I still forget.

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