Part 2 – How To Forgive: The Need For Self-Forgiveness

As Human beings… most of us rely on our ability to do things. We take pride in those things. We base what we are able to do off of: 1. Personal talent 2. Learned abilities and skills 3. Natural wisdom… and 4. Our own level of intelligence. Yet, true and meaningful change begins  with trusting GOD – Who is the Giver of life, love and happiness– P. Williamson

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As we go through life… and the Enemy” and LIFE begins to challenge EVERYTHING that we are, it stumps us – it hurts us… and makes us question who we are – and undervalue our self-worth. This causes us to be harder on ourselves than what’s necessary. Especially when we come up against a situation we’ve never faced before… or get involved in something we thought we would never get involved it – but did. It’s called pride.

I came across a beautiful story of the self-healing process in a book entitled, Offerings at the Wall, which includes a selection of some of the 90,000 letters and mementos that veterans and their loved ones have left at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C. In 1989, a worn photograph of a young Vietnamese man and a little girl was placed at the wall, along with the following letter:

Dear Sir,

For 22 years I have carried your picture in my wallet. I was only 18 years old that day that we faced one another on that trail in Chu Lai, Vietnam. Why you did not take my life I’ll never know … Forgive me for taking your life, I was reacting just the way I was trained … So many times over the years I’ve stared at your picture and your daughter. I suspect each time my heart and guts would burn with the pain of guilt. I have two daughters of my own now. I perceive you as a brave soldier, defending his homeland. Above all else I can now respect the importance life held for you. I suppose that is why I am able to be here today. It is time for me to continue the life process and release the pain and guilt. Forgive me sir.

The man who wrote the letter, Richard Luttrell, had faced the enormity of what it means to take a life, and the reality of how important life is to each of us. By letting himself feel the pain of his guilt, by looking again and again at his own fearful, reactive self — at the person who had been trained to kill — Richard had faced his own human frailty. In acknowledging this and asking for forgiveness, he was seeking to make amends and free his heart.

What we have to realize is this: GOD never expected us to be able to:

  • Overcome everything alone
  • Have our own answer for everything we face,
  • Fix every situation we go through – ON OUR OWN.

If we could do all those things… we wouldn’t need GOD. And that’s why when we face things in life… we should expect to go through some things. At the same time, though, we should have FAITH enough in GOD… to know that HE is able to bring us through anything. So, FAITH and reliance on GOD are the first steps to Self-forgiveness. Those things help us to lose self-pride in our own abilities – which is what GOD wants anyway. Once we lose the “Pride” of self-reliance… we become ready, willing and able to depend on GOD more and more. Then we can enjoy life more.

For all of us, though, the starting place of healing is reconciliation with our own heart. Whether we are unable to forgive ourselves for what seems like a major wrongdoing, or we have locked into chronic self-judgment, we are at war, cut off from our own tenderness, our own spirit. If we can see past our faults to our human vulnerability, we are on the path of reconciliation. Our self-compassion will naturally lead to caring about others, and perhaps, as for Richard, to an experience of love and connectedness we never imagined possible.

Also read: Part 1 – How To Forgive: The Challenge Of Personal Forgiveness


One thought on “Part 2 – How To Forgive: The Need For Self-Forgiveness”

  1. Sometimes it is hard but we must forgive ourselves. This comes through knowing the grace, love and forgiveness of God. Thanks Patrick


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