On Forgiving Myself

I was mouthy the other night.

I said too much.

My opinions were flying out of my mouth so quickly that I knew, totally knew, that I would want to grab the words back as I reflected on the conversation later that night. I even said so to the people I was with, “Oh man, I’m going to regret saying all of this…”

They laughed it off, enjoying my candid and somewhat humorous explanations of the way I felt about this or that. They told me not to worry about it one single bit.

But the next morning, I did feel badly. I have been trying to get up in the morning to journal and read the Bible before I start my day. I light a candle, I make some tea, I sit in my white chair and get quiet. It’s like working out…when I do it…it puts my day in the right direction.

In the quiet morning with my tea and my candle I felt ashamed.

I wrote for a while in my journal my confession and apologies. I asked for some help reigning in my words. I felt really silly and exposed. I tried to remember the words of Brennan Manning the day before in Ragamuffin Gospel (which I’m finally reading and you should too). I tried to remember that I’m an imperfect ragamuffin, making mistakes daily and in need of grace.

But should I breeze past this feeling of shame and rush to the relief of grace?

Does God want me to kind of sit in my room and think about it for a few minutes?

Can’t I confess it and move on? Can’t this process be quick and easy?

Probably not. I don’t know. I wondered…

I wrote the question to God in my journal:  “How long do you want me to feel bad about this? How long shall I let the shame sit with me?” I flinched inside wanting the answer to be “Oh don’t worry about it. Let it go. I forgive you.”

The answer came quickly. I read through Isaiah 43. There’s a part I love…a part in verses 18-21 that has been a word for me in seasons of change in my life. I read past it though to a place that spoke to me today. It read:

You have not brought me sheep for burnt offerings, nor honored me with your sacrifices. Isaiah 43:22

I thought about this and how the sacrifices and offerings, before Jesus became the sacrifice, were for atonement. I considered why it was that God wanted His people to respect Him enough to obey Him and to care deeply for their offering to Him.

It was clear to me as I read on, that it is the repositioning of our hearts that He is most concerned with.

God isn’t interested in my groveling and feeling shame: I am forgiven.

God is concerned with the renewing of my heart. God knows I need to go through a process in order to find relief. Sometimes that means I need to sit with my shame for a moment and realize how lame I was the night before spouting off my thoughts in a careless way. I want my words to be valuable, but I will sometimes resort to my way of making them cheap and easy. It’s a bummer, but I know it will happen again.

I am grateful for this process of confession and renewal. A process that we shortchange when we just kind of say “oh i’m forgiven, I guess I don’t need to say sorry.”

And we do.

“Sorry” is something I’m not always good at, but I’m trying to get better. I’m trying to say it out loud when I do something wrong. I need to go through the process in order to find true freedom and release.

I don’t like to feel ashamed. I’d much rather feel perfect. My feeling of perfection denies my humanity though, and my need for my Redeemer to come near to me and turn my heart in the right direction…again.

So in reverence and in intimacy, a beautiful paradox, I turn to the God of the Universe who also meets with me for tea in my white chair each morning and lets me “say sorry” and wrestle with the messiness of my soul.

Photo credit here.