“Forgiveness…Even For Myself?”

(This is a “Trigger Warning” for this post which looks at how childhood sexual abuse can make it difficult for a person to love and forgive themselves.)

There are some verses in the Bible that assume things about how people are.

There is no commandment in the Bible to love yourself. It’s just assumed that everyone does.

Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. Matthew 22:39 (KJV)

There is no commandment in the Bible to forgive yourself. It’s just assumed that everyone does.

But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses. Matthew 6:15 (KJV)

But not everyone loves themselves. Not everyone forgives themselves.

This can be true when we have made bad choices mostly perhaps on our own such as choosing addictions like drugs or alcohol, starving ourselves or cutting ourselves.

This can be true as well when we have been manipulated or forced into making bad choices without fully understanding what is going on or what the consequences will be. Childhood sexual abuse can make it very difficult for a person to love themselves and to forgive themselves.

Sometimes there is an abuser, a predator, who has very carefully manipulated the situation so that they seem to be not at fault. The abuser may be “just trying to help” or “taking the place of someone else who can’t or won’t help.” These are lies and deceptions that mask their true intentions.

The abuser may even make the child believe that it was really his or her own idea, not the adult’s idea, and that they are just as naive as the child, just playing a game that the child wanted to play. They may say something like “Just remember, this was your idea and what you wanted to do.” They will not say that they are enjoying the manipulation, the power, the control, the sexual thrill.

Looking back with adult survivor eyes, there may be pain, embarrassment, and the feeling of betraying oneself. You may doubt yourself. You may blame yourself for not being smart enough, for being gullible, for liking the attention, for allowing yourself to be used like that.

Years and adult decisions can put distance between the adult survivor and the abuser, but how does one make decisions to put distance between oneself? How do you get away from yourself? There is legal recourse that can be taken against an abuser, if you choose to take that route, but how does one take legal recourse against oneself? How do you make yourself pay?

Here is the dilemma.

If someone hurts God, treats Him like He doesn’t matter, then that person is going to pay for that betrayal. You mess with God, you are going to pay. The gun is loaded and cocked. The gun is fired at Jesus instead of you. This is sometimes the way that the Gospel is presented. Someone has to die. It’s either going to be Jesus or Me.

If someone hurts Me, treats Me like I don’t matter, then that person is going to pay for that betrayal. You mess with Me, you are going to pay. The gun is loaded and cocked. Only in this case, the gun is fired at Me.

When we hurt and betray ourselves, that’s not against God. That’s not messing with God, so maybe Jesus didn’t die for that. God gave Jesus to die for the hurts we give to God. Jesus took the penalty that rightly should be ours.

But who am I going to give to die for the hurts I gave to myself? The only person I can give to die for the hurts I gave to myself is me.

Stuff like this can make you want to kill yourself. No lie.

So think about how Christ and His Cross are presented. Is it like “when there is sin, the gun is loaded and cocked so somebody has got to die”? Jesus was crucified so God could change His mind about us? Is that right?

This next quote was part of our message on The Second Sunday Of Easter, and it came at just the right time as I was thinking through what to say in this post:

“Jesus didn’t come to change God’s mind about us, but to change our minds about God.”

This is an important message for everyone, on the last pew or not.

There is only one thing that I want to add for those on the last pew who hate themselves and are unable to forgive themselves for whatever reason, including those who believed lies, were misled, and abused as children. Even though everyone has a different story, is remains true for everyone who was abused as a child.

“Jesus also came to change our minds about ourselves.”

You did nothing wrong. You did nothing wrong. You did nothing wrong.

You were never in control of the situation, even if you were led to believe that you were. You could not have been smarter. You could not have figured it out on your own. Your abuser was not your equal. Your predator had a plan to succeed no matter what you did or didn’t do.

I believe with all of my heart that just as Jesus came to change our minds about God, He also came to change our minds about ourselves.

He can change your mind about yourself, and He can heal you.

Here is the only other part that I’m putting in bold. If you can relate to this and are struggling with this or know someone who is…seek counseling. There are resources available that can help you. I’m just drawing and writing from my limited perspective. But there are professionals that can help you. Seriously. Jesus is right there with you on the last pew. Honestly.

20 thoughts on ““Forgiveness…Even For Myself?”

  1. As someone who has seen this play out in many lives including my own, all I can say is you have captured so much of the reality of people in many of the pews not just the last one. The last pew may sneak out undetected but the pews closer to the front put on a brave face to avoid detection in hopes that people will not see that they can’t forgive or love themselves. I hope your blog post starts people on the road to healing – life is far to short to live under the mistakes and hurts of the past but ends up being far too long if you live under the mistakes and hurts of the past.

    Liked by 6 people

    1. Thanks so much. You’re quite correct. There are people sitting closer to the front putting on a brave face while falling apart inside. Healing isn’t just needed for the folks on the last pew, and there are people that we see everyday who are breaking up inside, but still maintaining the appearance of having it all together. I do hope that making others aware is a start. Thanks again for your support!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I love my mother, but she should have not been a parent. She and her sisters were molested by their father. For about a year, when my mother was in nursing school, we lived in his house. I think she had blocked out what had happened. Her father was real abusive towards me because I had a bed wetting problem (I was seven). He would beat me (I do know the difference between a spanking and a beating). After the beatings were over, his toadying wife (not my grandmother) would pull out the Bible, open it to Proverbs 13:24, declare me to be a wicked child and say that I deserved it.
    I lived with this for so long and thought of myself as a bad person and worthless. How much more must my mother went through? She had become a drug addict, stealing drugs from the hospital where she worked. She never forgave her father. I try to, but there are days when all I see is that scared little boy who was beaten for wetting the bed, fearing that some god monster hated him.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. That sounds truly bitterly painful, and no one should have to experience that type of treatment. I am so sorry and saddened that you had to endure that.

      You’ve also pointed out quite rightly that abusive behavior can be passed on from one generation to the next. I am so glad that you have said either consciously or unconsciously, “This ends here with my generation. No more.”

      I really and truly hope that you will take to heart one of the main messages of this post: It was not your fault. You did nothing wrong.

      I truly pray that you will know the love and acceptance of Christ more and more each day.

      Liked by 3 people

    1. Thank you so much for your encouragement and support. That means so much. There’s a great deal of thought and prayer that goes into a post like this, and so many edits, and I wonder about things like, “Who is this guy trying to share something like this from a woman’s perspective?” Yet there’s a part of me that says “If this guy doesn’t say something, what guy will?” I even thought to myself, “I’m going to totally bomb on this one. People are going to drop me on WordPress so fast!” This is why I am so very grateful for your encouragement and support. It helps tremendously, particularly when I’m tempted to not press “Publish.”

      Liked by 2 people

      1. I think you have done the right thing because we look at everyday people and think they are free but a lot still feel like they are trapped in a dungeon. They will never talk to anyone. People in their closest circles never know what has happened to them but a post like this can really help them to turn things around. Sometimes even reading this, may not take effect now, it could be months later but the healing process has started, is progressing or is completed.
        Good work.

        Liked by 2 people

  3. Thank you for this compassionate post. I have never loved myself and still have thoughts of self-hatred. However, I learned from Joyce Meyer to quote the Bible and praise God when bad thoughts come. This always helps me and makes me smile.

    I used to think I could be cured of my mental illness; I went to a lot of therapists through the years. Every time I went, I was helped immensely. I learned so much about myself and why my thinking was skewed. I learned why I was terrified of people. Knowing why makes a huge difference. I am patient and understanding with myself now.

    I’ve learned to accept the way I am. C.S. Lewis helped me a lot because he said those who have a mental illness should consider themselves as if they lost a leg. They must learn to live with this disability with God helping them. Perhaps that sounds discouraging to you. Perhaps there are people who were horribly abused who become completely “normal.” But remember how you started your post with a warning, “Trigger?” I tend to think the abused child within each one of us is on the alert for the rest of our lives. She/he is only trying to keep us safe.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thanks, Belle. I do like that quote from C. S. Lewis, and I’m so glad that you mentioned it. That’s because it reminds me that even though some people are not going to experience perfect health in this life, even though some people may not be completely whole in this life…Nevertheless, in the next life, we will all be healed and whole. People born with birth defects like missing limbs, will have them! People with severe depression will no longer have tears and sorrows. For some, their healing comes in this life. For others, it comes in the next life. But Jesus is the Healer who makes us whole and who wipes away all of our tears! Thanks again!

      Liked by 3 people

    1. Thank you for your encouragement and support. These are tough posts to write because I really want them to help with His healing and restoring work…even if only to say, “we all understand your hurt and pain and we are alongside you.”

      Liked by 3 people

  4. This is a great post. I have family who have been through similar situations. Unfortunately most of them went down a path of self destruction. I wish they had someone who could’ve helped them through it and process what happened. Even if they could’ve read something like this, maybe they could’ve handled the pain differently.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for the positive feedback, though I’m sad that some of your family members have been through similar tough times.

      You have made a great point about “a path of self-destruction.” That is something that doesn’t quite make sense, and yet we see it…people have been hurt and so they then do things that hurt themselves. You’d think their reaction instead would be to protect themselves, to do all that they could to rise above it. (Like growing up with an abusive alcoholic parent and then becoming an alcoholic too.) The best way I can understand it is that for some people pain becomes “normal” in the sense of “this is what I am accustomed to.”

      I can say for me, without Christ actively working in my life to lead me and guide me, I would feel like I had no value. I would be involved in all sorts of self-destructive behaviors.

      Anyway, thank you so much for commenting and adding to this post for others who stumble across this post. My prayer is that we can help change lives, and that others can see that they aren’t alone.

      Liked by 1 person

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