Have you ever made a decision that you regret, and you wonder how you can forgive yourself? We all have our things we regret that we need to forgive ourselves for, big and small. Forgiveness can be hard, but I think the hardest person to forgive is yourself. This is something I have been dealing with since August’s birth.
August will always be very affected by his birth, and so will I. One of the hardest struggles I have had is forgiving myself for the choices I made. August was born at home. This was a decision I didn’t make lightly, but it’s hard not to wonder what would have happened under different circumstances. Would the outcome have been better? Worse? The truth is that we will never know. It doesn’t really matter anymore, but that hasn’t stopped the haunting questions from popping up.
How Could I Ever Forgive Myself?
How could I ever forgive myself? How could I live with myself? Add to that the judgment that I know has come my way from others for the same reasons I judge myself. But the biggest judgment I have to deal with is my own.
One thing I have noticed is that I can feel like I have forgiven myself for a time, but then something comes up. August needs a surgery, we have discovered a new difficulty, we start a new therapy, someone says something, etc. This new thing can throw me back down, and it feels like I have to start over.
At first, I felt like maybe I didn’t really forgive myself the first time(s), but I don’t feel that way anymore. I have started to see forgiveness as an ongoing process. I don’t think that just because I am back to blaming myself I didn’t do it right the first time.
Forgive Until Seventy Times Seven
In Matthew 18: 21-22 it says:
21 Then came Peter to him, and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times?
22 Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven.
This does not only apply to others. It also applies to ourselves. We should be just as kind and merciful to ourselves as we are with others. Have you ever been in a relationship where you forgave someone, and then they did something that brought it all up again? Sometimes you have to re-forgive, and it doesn’t mean you never forgave in the first place.
The relationship I have with myself makes a big difference in how hard I am on myself. I am not perfect, and I make mistakes. I do things that make me upset with myself. This happens over and over again. As I continue to work on my relationship with myself, forgive myself for being human, and love myself, it becomes easier to forgive myself. If I get down on myself and stop taking care of myself, my relationship suffers, and it is harder to be forgiving of my faults.
Forgiveness Is A Process
I used to think forgiveness was a one time thing. That can be true in lots of circumstances, but it’s much harder when it is something that affects you or someone else for the rest of their lives like August’s birth. It is something we all have to deal with every day, and it is easy to be reminded just by looking at his arm and seeing his challenges.
I have learned that forgiveness is a process. No matter how much I want it to just be done and over with, I am coming to the realization that I may have to continue to forgive myself for the same decisions many more times. I think it might be a long time until I can permanently stop blaming myself. But, I have had some experiences lately that have helped me understand forgiveness better and have some hope that I can truly forgive myself for good.
How Do I Not Blame Anyone?
Our brains naturally want to blame someone or something for things that happen. We want it to make logical sense. That has been one of my struggles with forgiving myself. If I forgive myself, then whose fault is it? In this situation, I can blame myself, God, or the midwife. The midwife is forgiven, and it hasn’t been a problem for me to continually feel forgiveness toward her. I naturally go to blaming God. He’s an easy person to blame, and logically, it makes sense that it’s His fault. But, I have learned that blaming God is not helpful. It is confusing to be mad at Him. It is not helpful at all to disconnect from Him and give Him the silent treatment. If I get a choice, it is better to be mad at myself than at God.
I have been praying to understand how to put blame away. It’s much easier said than done, but I do think it’s possible.
The definition of acceptance in the dictionary is:
the action of consenting to receive or undertake something offered.
the action or process of being received as adequate or suitable.
agreement with or belief in an idea, opinion, or explanation.
Wow, right? If we can accept our circumstances, there is nothing to forgive. Can I truly accept what happened during August’s birth? What if I agree that it was what is best? Can I consent to receive the circumstances instead of what I wanted? What if I think of it as my will? If this is God’s will why couldn’t it be my own? I think acceptance is a big key. But how do we get into a state of acceptance and stay there?
Gratitude is powerful, and I think it is key to acceptance of difficult circumstances and forgiveness. Gratitude has been scientifically proven to rewire our brains so we can see the positive. There are many health benefits that come from practicing daily gratitude. I have practiced gratitude a lot the past few years, but I have needed lots of reminders of its power and importance.
A mentor of mine taught me a concept called Gratitude 2.0. It’s easy to be grateful when things are going great, but what if we are grateful during hard times too? A new level would be to be grateful FOR the hard times. Practicing gratitude for the hard things can feel strange and hard at first, but it really works. It has been powerful to thank Heavenly Father for the hard things that have come my way and as a result of August’s birth. As I have practiced gratitude for what happened at August’s birth, it has changed how I look at things. My brain doesn’t have to blame anyone. I can accept it because I can be grateful for all the many blessings that have also come my way. In the end, the blessings far exceed the difficulty. There is nothing to forgive.
An Equation To Forgiveness
I truly feel that as I focus on taking blame out of the picture by focusing on acceptance and gratitude, forgiveness will come for good. There might be times I feel like I’m starting over again, and that’s okay. I can forgive myself for that too.