I’ve heard one of the greatest barriers to accepting Christ is the feeling of being unforgivable. One of my favorite songs is, “Love Me” by J. J. Heller, and although all the words are beautiful and reveal God’s amazing, initiating, redeeming love, it is the final verse that threatens tears every time.
It says, “I know you’ve murdered and I know you’ve lied. I’ve watched you suffer all of your life. And now that you’ll listen, I’ll tell you I will love you for you. Not for you have done or what you will become. I will love you for you. I will show you what love, what love really means.”
That verse reveals God’s heart. Grace doesn’t say get your act together, then I’ll love. It says come as you are, I’ve always loved you. Grace says there is nothing you could ever do to make God love you more and no matter what you do, God will never love you less. But my favorite part of grace is the promise that when I turn to God for forgiveness, He washes me clean and makes me knew. Every sinful stain, eradicated by the blood He shed for me, leaving me clothed in radiant white.
As you read Paula Petty’s story below, let the grace of God wash over you and hold tight to what you know is true–what He says is true. If any man is in Christ, He is a new creation. The old has gone and the new has come.
Forgiving Yourself by Paula Petty
I stepped out of the car and into a wad of gum. I went to the edge of the concrete and stroked my foot back and forth in an attempt to scrape the sticky residue from my shoe. That didn’t work. The gum stuck to the asphalt with each step and made a snapping sound that aggravated me. I spent the rest of the afternoon walking on my heel.
My life was much like the gum on the shoe. I didn’t feel forgiven. With each step I took, I felt the weight of the sin sticking to me like the gum on the shoe. Confusion and doubt settled in my mind causing me to lose focus. Each mess in my life brought me before the Lord in repentance, and the weight of my sin brought me further down until my life spiraled out of control and sent me into depression. I wanted to feel forgiven.
As I moped around the house one day, a song popped into my mind about being redeemed. I started singing with barely a mumble. Then I suddenly realized that my Father had forgiven me. It was time that I forgave myself and let it go so that I could move on. I uttered another prayer to the Lord then forgave myself. Immediately, I felt a peace like nothing I had felt before.
Forgiveness is being set free from sin. Jesus sets us free from them. It does me no good to ask for forgiveness if I don’t forgive myself. When I ask for forgiveness, I am laying my burden down—all of it—at the feet of Jesus. I leave it with Him. He frees me from the guilt so that I can focus on a life filled with His love.
Oh, Lord, forgive me for whatever I have done that has not brought glory to you. Empty my heart of the bondage of sin and free me. Fill it with the peace that comes from being free. Guide me so that I can focus on a life dedicated to you. Amen
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I’d like to close out Paula’s story with a promise God made to each of us: 1 John 1:9 “But if we confess our sins to Him, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all wickedness.” (NLT)
Paula Petty has had articles and poetry published in several magazines such as Christian Woman. A former vacation Bible school director for ten years, she coordinates the ladies’ ministry at her church and speaks at ladies’ conferences in this country and Cuba, Jamaica and Honduras and is currently working on her Christian living book In Need of a Compass. Paula can be reached on her blog http://www.paulaspocket.blogspot.com or on her website www.paulapetty.com.
As an FYI, we’re getting some work done on our house starting today, which will interfere with our internet connection. Therefore, I may not post anything for a while. Have a great week!
Thanks so much for sharing your story. Your analogy of the feel of sin sticking to us like gum was powerful. Forgiveness truly brings peace.
I very much enjoyed this post. You are so right. God forgives us so much easier and quicker than we forgive ourselves. We usually have the tendency to beat ourselves up. It was very refreshing and inspirational to read your story. Thanks so much for sharing.
Paula, its April, call me please, 813-447-7031