Most people do not think about grouping these two concepts together: forgiveness and shame. Mainly because shame is a personal negative emotion while forgiveness is a *positive* interpersonal action. However, to challenge what I just stated about forgiveness, many times forgiveness is more about letting yourself move forward from a negative experience aka: forgive yourself.
I have learned in the past year that forgiving yourself is one of the hardest things for a person to do. We all innately push ourselves to be better than what we think people think of us. Each of us want to be happy with our life styles and able to sustain them financially. Correct? When we make a decision that does not push us “forward” but actually harms us or our wellbeing or how others perceive us we immediately regret in that decision. If that regret stays with us and has a lasting effect in our lives, we eventually develop shame over that situation.
Most of the time the reason we struggle to forgive ourselves is because we are filled with shame over the decision we made. People will spend years in agony over this shame, isolating socially and emotionally from anyone that might come close to their heart. Little do they know, the most effective way to overcome shame is to forgive yourself for that decision.
But how do you go about forgiving yourself for a decision that brought your such pain and agony? I think the first step is reminding yourself of why you made that decision. Chances are, you did not make it in order to inflict pain on yourself. Remind yourself the value of the choice you made. Then question what happened that caused the negative outcome. It is probably some outward variable that you could not have predicted prior to it happening. Third, if that outward variable involves someone elses actions, forgive them. They did not make their decision just to harm you. Fourth, forgive yourself for allowing yourself to be in shame for so long over an event that you did not mean to harm yourself. THEN- MOVE ON. You will find that some of your decisions/mind sets/behaviors might change because you have forgiven yourself and realized that it is not your goal to harm yourself but outward, unpredictable variables that cause negative outcomes. Don’t be afraid of those changes. Embrace them and let them shine, because this is who you are, when you’re not being buried alive in shame.
Forgiveness will ALWAYS overcome shame. WHY? Because forgiveness is from the Lord and is therefore full of light and life while as shame is from the devil and is full of darkness and death. Light and life always overcome darkness and death.
*I hope some of you can find a bit of freedom from this, and if there is something you think I missed, please let me know.*