Forgive yourself when you fail.
I’ve gone two whole months without failing. I haven’t raised my voice. I haven’t gotten angry. I haven’t been offended. I haven’t been hurt, whatever. You know that’s not true. It’s really not possible. We’re flawed human beings by design. The truth is I’ve failed already today in a big, hard way. It’s only three o’clock in the afternoon when I’m writing this. Today, I’ve been angry and bitter and holding a grudge against my husband and honestly, keeping a record of wrongs on his behalf. Because he won’t keep his own record of wrongs, I have to keep it for him and make sure that I correct him when he’s wrong.
Of course, I fail. I fail, sometimes, moment by moment. I fail in being disciplined. I fail in eating right. I fail in spending enough time with my kids. I fail in harboring bitter thoughts. I fail in becoming offended. I am a failure in so many ways.
Several years ago, I stepped into the freedom of forgiveness of Jesus Christ. I remember the day that I realized that I was truly forgiven and that I forgive myself. That day, I was set free. I have never been in bondage since.
In my Christian walk, there were times when I would get mad and frustrated, like, “Gosh I can’t believe I failed again. I’m such a failure.” Like, “Argh! Why do I keep screwing up? Why do I keep messing up? This is horrible. I know better.” I hated it. I hated myself. I was so mad.
But guess what, I wasn’t walking in the freedom of forgiveness that I once received. Scriptures said walk in the same way that you received Christ. That means if you know you’re forgiven the first day, then you’re forgiven the second day, the two thousandth day, the eighty two thousandth day, you’re forgiven. You can forgive yourself.
The Lord showed me that when I screwed up and I get up and I beat myself up about it, like, “Oh gosh, I can’t believe I did that. I messed up.” When I got up and beat myself up, that I was living in my works and my own effort and my own goodness and my own perfection. I was living in my blood as a sacrifice to God. I wasn’t living in the blood of Jesus. He showed me, “You fall, and you get right back up into my spirit, in the forgiving power of Jesus Christ. If you don’t, in that moment, in the middle, whether it’s a day or a month or year, you’re inoperable to work as my child because you’re too focused on you and what you’ve done. I need your eyes on me and what I’ve done and who I am and what I’m here to do. I don’t need your eyes on you. I need them on me.”
He showed me also that while I was beating myself up, I was saying that Jesus’ sacrifice wasn’t enough for me. Man, that’s just all out blasphemy. That is just arrogance beyond arrogance. Not only do we need to learn to forgive ourselves, we gotta forgive ourselves quickly.
You know, I think a lot of people think that means repentance. What does repent mean? They think it means crying in their closet like, “Oh God, please forgive me. I screwed up so bad. I’m a horrible person. I’m just a weak fleshly soul.” You know what they were doing when they say that? They are agreeing with their own self before they were in Christ. They’re agreeing with their old identity and completely ignoring who God says they are. Wow.
Have you done that before? I’m confident you have. I have done it. I lived that for years—just belittled myself. I talked horribly about myself. While I’m doing that, I’m completely disregarding the truth that God says: one, I am a new creation; two, I am made whole; three, I am the righteousness of Christ; four, I am forgiven and my sins have been erased forever; five, I’m his child and he delights in me; six, he’s not mad at me; seven, I don’t have to beg a God who loves me, a father who enjoys me; eight, I am whole. I’m just whole. Nothing can change my identity. My behavior cannot steal my wholeness. It’s impossible.
So here’s what God convicted me to do—I didn’t learn this from anyone. There’s no teacher who taught me, I didn’t watch it on TV. I didn’t hear it from my pastor. I haven’t heard it from a friend. But I struggled and I wrestled for a very long time, beating myself up because I wasn’t perfect. So I know. This is my story. I’ve walked these shoes. This isn’t a preacher’s message. This is straight out of the heart of God and you need to hear it.
What God showed me to do—when I messed up, he said, “Though righteous man falls seven times, he gets up.” He said, “Sheri, get up. Lift your chin. Do you know who you are in me? You’re already forgiven. Do you think what you just did was a surprise to me? It wasn’t. It wasn’t a surprise. I’m not shocked by you. I knew it already. Here’s what I love about you, Sheri. You fall and you keep choosing me and you choose me, and you choose me again because you know that I love you. You know me. We’re intimate. We’re close. Your mistakes don’t steal from our relationship.”
So he showed me when you fall down, get up and say, “Thank you father that I’m forgiven. Thank you, father, that I’m not defined by what I do. Thank you, father, that I am the righteousness of your son. Thank you, father, that I’m a new creation and I’m not of this world. Thank you, father, that I’m completely forgiven. I receive right now in the name of Jesus. I thank you, father, that you make me whole, that you make me complete. I thank you, father, that I am yours and you’re not mad at me and you’re not a mean God like my parents were. No. I thank you, father, that you are so in love with me; that you delight in me; that we’re friends; that I can come to you and talk about my struggles. You keep me whole, that my identity has not changed; that I’m secure; that Jesus Christ was enough for me.”
You know what, I get up from that with the fullness of joy like you have never known. Somebody can call me and say, “Hey, can you help over my family member who is in the hospital on the verge of dying? Can you leave for them right now?” And I can say with everything in me, “Yes.” I don’t feel unworthy because it’s Christ who makes me worthy and I stay worthy. I remain worthy even when my behavior isn’t worthy because it’s not based on me. It’s based on the blood of Jesus Christ, his love for us and what he did for us and that alone—that’s it. Nothing more. It’s never been based on you. It’s never been dependent on you and it never ever will be.
But if you get down and you beat yourself up, guess what, it will be about you. It will be about you trying to make things right with God. It will be about you trying to get yourself back in the right place with the Lord. It will be about you and your behavior and what you’re not. It will be about you begging God because you don’t think you’re worthy to come to the throne with grace and boldness. You don’t think he wants to. You don’t think he’s delighted to give you the desires of your heart.
But he is. You have to forgive yourself and you have to do it quickly. Forgive and forget.