A Ministry of Care by Dr. Daniel G. Bagby

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?

  1. For something never done, or something never said.
  2. For a tragic incident or event that defines us in our eyes.
  3. For repeating irresponsible behavior (Obsessive/Compulsive).
  4. For the “shadow side” in us for which we are ashamed.
  5. For sin/sins for which we believe we have not “fully” paid.
  6. For irreversible loss which we cannot repair (regrets).
  7. For abuses in which we may have participated (emotional/physical/sexual/ spiritual).
  8. For being angry at God—or not ready to forgive someone.
  9. For not being someone else (someone better?).
  10. For whatever we consider unforgivable (Judas vs. Peter).

Common toxic messages we carry:

  1. If people really knew what I did, they would reject me.
  2. I make so many mistakes that I am inadequate as a person.
  3. I am ashamed of something which has blemished me for life (universal).
  4. Unless I can permanently conquer a weakness I have, I am of no value.
  5. What I’ve done is unforgivable. I must pay for the rest of my life (I will never be joyful again).
  6. We move on (emotionally & spiritually): I’m not the sum of my mistake.
  7. We embrace the future as a means to make repair (a season of grace).

Recurring steps to practice:

  1. Acknowledge the hurt or failure.
  2. Express the pain, anger, and sorrow the offense creates.
  3. Employ the pain and grief as expressions of care in a relationship.
  4. Gradual willingness to let go, heal, and move on—to avoid doubling the harm.