Reflection by Scott Stoner
In my work as a pastoral psychotherapist I encounter two different ways people have trouble forgiving themselves. The first has to do with something specific that a person has done for which they are having trouble forgiving themselves. Quite often they feel deep regret about how they have hurt or betrayed someone, or how they have betrayed a core value within themselves.
A second way I encounter people seeking forgiveness is more general in nature. These people usually can’t identify anything specific they feel bad about having done, but live with a pervasive and chronic sense of not feeling good enough, a sense that they have just never quite measured up to some internal or external standard. Further exploration usually reveals that this sense of not being good enough is related to their having internalized this message growing up, whether in their home or from the surrounding environment and culture in which they lived.
No matter the origin of a need to forgive ourselves, the path to healing is the same. First, we need to acknowledge both to God and, if possible, to someone else we trust, the real pain of not feeling worthy and of our need to forgive ourselves. Opening our hearts in this way creates an opening to receive God’s forgiveness and to begin to “let the burden go, and walk out into a new path of promise and possibility.”
Making It Personal: Have you ever felt your past was a “jailer” that prevents you from being free to enjoy your life in the present? Do you currently experience either way of forgiving yourself described above? If so, what has helped or what will help you to forgive yourself?
Follow along with us this Lent season with our daily devotional and engage in discussion in our closed facebook group moderated by The Rev. Dr. Scott Stoner & The Rev. Jan Kwiatowski.
In this group, participants will have a chance to share their responses to the prompts in the daily readings, and also the chance to receive additional material for reflection.