Pastoral Care Guidance for Deacons, Stephen Ministers, and the Congregation of River Road Church, Baptist
Forgiving Self: Why we Struggle and How to Heal
For what do we have the most trouble forgiving ourselves?
- For something never done, or something never said.
- For a tragic incident or event that defines us in our eyes.
- For repeating irresponsible behavior (Obsessive/Compulsive).
- For the “shadow side” in us for which we are ashamed.
- For sin/sins for which we believe we have not “fully” paid.
- For irreversible loss which we cannot repair (regrets).
- For abuses in which we may have participated (emotional/physical/sexual/ spiritual).
- For being angry at God—or not ready to forgive someone.
- For not being someone else (someone better?).
- For whatever we consider unforgivable (Judas vs. Peter).
Common toxic messages we carry:
- If people really knew what I did, they would reject me.
- I make so many mistakes that I am inadequate as a person.
- I am ashamed of something which has blemished me for life (universal).
- Unless I can permanently conquer a weakness I have, I am of no value.
- What I’ve done is unforgivable. I must pay for the rest of my life (I will never be joyful again).
- We move on (emotionally & spiritually): I’m not the sum of my mistake.
- We embrace the future as a means to make repair (a season of grace).
Recurring steps to practice:
- Acknowledge the hurt or failure.
- Express the pain, anger, and sorrow the offense creates.
- Employ the pain and grief as expressions of care in a relationship.
- Gradual willingness to let go, heal, and move on—to avoid doubling the harm.