Christian Living

Spiritual Life

I Forgive Me

“And it’s me who is my enemy / Me who beats me up / Me who makes the monsters / Me who strips my confidence” – Paula Cole, “Me”

Most people use the mirror to fix hair or brush teeth. I use mine for moments of introspection – at least, that was the scene in my bathroom last night.

“I forgive me,” I said at a low whisper staring myself straight in the eye.

Talking to one’s self is already a certifiable offense, but I didn’t care. I knew the circumstances that led me to this breakthrough. The catalyst? Confessions of a Matchmaker.

I was up way past my bedtime to catch an episode of the A&E reality show about Patti Novak, a professional matchmaker determined to marry off the lonely hearts of Buffalo, New York. One of her clients was a woman who once was vibrant, fun, and full of life. After a couple of breakups, she moved back in with mom, lost all her luster, and gained 30 pounds. She wore frumpy clothes and was content to play the overly nurturing role in her love life. Hardly attractive to the opposite sex, she had basically given up.

After watching her self-sabotage another date by calling herself “mother hen,” Novak got right in her face. The cleaner version of what she said goes something like this: “No guy wants to be with a woman who reminds him of his mother. You’re intentionally pushing people away. Where did your confidence go?” The woman immediately began to cry. Whatever was radiant about her was stolen a long time ago – and with it went her sense of self.

The easy thing to do is blame the guys who treated her wrong. Instead of carrying around the offense, she needed to just forgive them and move on. But what happens when it’s not the ones who hurt you who need the forgiveness?

I thought I could identify from the standpoint of having been on the receiving end of, “I’m just not that into you.” However, over time, I got closure and pardons were granted all around. Well, almost. Pardons were extended to everyone, but me.

I put myself in the naughty corner. I did things I really wasn’t proud of – not just in relationships but over the course of daily living. And even though the bulk of those deeds were years behind me, I still harbored ill-will towards myself for them. I was public enemy no. 1 in my own mind. Every random occurrence of a bad day was somehow linked to me being a “bad person”.

God forgave me, and as promised in Psalm 103:12, He took my sin and hurled it to the other side of the universe. But that wasn’t good enough for me. If God wouldn’t punish me, then I’d do it myself.

So there I was -- the frumpy girl on the inside – watching Patti Novak tell this poor woman that she had self-esteem issues. I thought, She just needs to forgive that guy who left her and forgive herself for all the wounds – self-afflicted and otherwise. I could feel the Holy Spirit respond: You should try that for yourself.

… Which brings me to the bathroom scene. “I forgive me,” I said. “I really forgive me for all of it. It’s OK. God’s cast my sin as far as the east is from the west, and now I do too.”

In the privacy of my own bathroom, I got into specifics. They are now details I no longer need to get into. I no longer need to wear them on my sleeve as imaginary reasons for someone not to like me. They are no longer part of a hidden, shameful past. The figurative “victim” label plastered on my forehead could be peeled off now.

So enough about me… on to you. What does your reflection look like? Do you see a child of God whose sins are completely wiped away? Or are you keeping a long list of faults and flaws? Are you allowing yourself to live your life as a free person or are you bound to the mistakes of yesterday? Take a good, hard look in the mirror and search your heart. You may be withholding the last pardon that you need. Forgive yourself. If God can do it, so can you.

Copyright © Jennifer E. Jones. Used by permission.

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