My friend arrived at the airport early for her flight from Toronto to London. She piled her bags on a cart and headed to a coffee shop for lunch. A woman came up behind her and asked for directions. A kind person, my friend tried to help. During the exchange her handbag was snatched from the cart. Her passport, credit cards, cash, everything she needed for her vacation was missing.
Authorities explained that she’d been played. As she’d turned to look at the woman asking for help, another woman had stolen her purse. She felt devastated. Several phone calls later helpful airline staff had her on the plane. “Don’t let this ruin your plans. Go and enjoy yourself,” her husband said. But as she settled into her seat on the plane, a knot of dispair lodged in her chest. How could I be so stupid? Why didn’t I have my purse looped over my shoulder? I must look naive, that’s why these thieves picked on me. This is the story of my life, always getting picked on. Ugly, self-accusing thoughts rolled through her mind.
She leaned back on the headrest. God, help me, she prayed. A thought, quiet but firm, came into her mind – you need to forgive yourself. She prayed again, “I do Lord, I do forgive myself. I recognize that anyone can be taken advantage of.” Immediately, the knot of despair dissipated, relief came.
A stolen purse may rank low on the list of things we need to forgive ourselves for but the despair my friend felt wasn’t much different than the despair we feel over bigger failures. It’s often easier to forgive others than to forgive ourselves. Sometimes it’s not a matter of sins and failures but simply forgiving ourselves for not being more successful, more outgoing, more confident.
Perhaps you need to forgive yourself for some nagging fault or for a bad decision you made. Whatever shortcomings nip at your heels, handle them by getting alone with God and praying a prayer of self-forgiveness.
Lord, I recognize that I’m not superhuman. I’ve made mistakes that have made me angry at myself. I’ve accepted your forgiveness for my sins and today I forgive myself for ________ (name the act).
Those who enter into Christ no longer have to live under a continuous, low-lying black cloud. A new power is in operation. The Spirit of life in Christ, like a strong wind, has magnificently cleared the air, freeing you from a fated lifetime of brutal tyranny at the hands of sin and death. (Romans 8:1,2 The Message)