“I can never forgive myself,” she said. “Every time I think about it, I get sick to my stomach.”
I knew that feeling. I had felt it due to my own failures and shortcomings. I also knew I could help her, because I know that sometimes the hardest person to forgive is yourself.
The partial truth about us is hard to accept: We hurt those we love. We fail to step in when others need us most. We do wrong—and we need forgiveness. From others and from God, but also from ourselves.
But the full truth about us is liberating and freeing: while we are more deeply flawed than we can imagine, we also are far more valuable and cherished than we can comprehend. To reach the place of self-forgiveness, we must embrace this truth. The gift of God’s acceptance frees us from self-blame, guilt, and shame.
In this practical, inspiring book, Dr. Everett Worthington identifies six steps to forgiving yourself:
· Receive God’s forgiveness
· Repair relationships
· Rethink ruminations
· REACH emotional self-forgiveness
· Rebuild self-acceptance
· Resolve to live virtuously
Weaving his own story of struggling with his brother’s suicide and his overwhelming feelings of regret, together with psychological insight, scientific research, and biblical truth, Dr. Worthington opens a clear path to freedom from self-condemnation to self-acceptance and most importantly, to the full life that Christ promises.
A Personal Note to Get Us Started
Forgiveness is hard; we all know that. What comes as a surprise to many of us is this: forgiving yourself can be much harder still. When you are the wrongdoer who needs to be forgiven—and you are the one who needs to forgive—a struggle results that has few equals.
In Moving Forward
you will learn research-proven steps to forgiving others and yourself. The steps also have been tear-tested in the difficulties and darkness of real life and worked through in the counseling room. As we work through the six steps in the chapters that follow, you will gain life-changing insight into your nature as a person. And you will discover a number of truths about yourself—things you might already have suspected but weren’t yet prepared to take a close look at.
The truth about you (and all of us) is hard to accept, but it’s powerful and life changing when you do face it and engage with it. The truth is this: you are more flawed than you can imagine. But, miraculously, you also are far more valuable and more cherished than you can imagine.
You—and everyone else—are a contrast of flaws and unspeakable value that is difficult to fathom. But when you do get it, and I finally “got it” as I moved through my own struggles, the breakthrough is a glorious shift in the way you live. So join with me to work through a process that will be much harder than you expect but will end with the freedom you have been seeking. You can live without self-blame and condemnation, without the familiar burden of guilt, and in a place where you can embrace the precious value of being a flawed person who is deeply loved by God. The work that is required to reach self-forgiveness will seem daunting. And with good reason. It is more demanding than most of the challenges you will take on in life. But the difficult work eventually achieves a goal that few people reach. Self-forgiveness releases you from shame and self-condemnation and leads to freedom and long-lasting internal peace.
All of this begins with God’s recipe for self-acceptance, which is summed up as “you are flawed, but precious.” The real struggle in gaining meaningful victory over self-blame is not simply saying you are forgiving yourself. You can forgive yourself with full understanding and yet still feel just as guilty and ashamed of your misdeeds. The hardest struggle—
beyond self-forgiveness—is accepting yourself as a flawed individual (we all are), and yet being convinced that you are precious to the Lord. You are valued more highly than you can imagine.
After you work through the steps to self-forgiveness, you will experience something that Paul came to realize in his life. Paul couldn’t change his past persecution of Christians, but he knew he was living a new life. Likewise, you can admit to your past failures and the things you regret yet strain forward to the future (see Philippians 3:13).
I hope your sense of hope will be renewed as we embark on a journey that will involve a lot of work but will lead to the destination we all long for. So are you ready to work through the six steps to forgiving yourself?
Here is the sneak-peek outline.
Step 1: Receive God’s Forgiveness
Step 2: Repair Relationships
Step 3: Rethink Ruminations
Step 4: REACH Emotional Self-Forgiveness
Step 5: Rebuild Self-Acceptance
Step 6: Resolve to Live Virtuously
Now let’s get started.
Excerpted from Moving Forward by Everett L. Worthington Jr.. Copyright © 2013 by Everett L. Worthington Jr.. Excerpted by permission of WaterBrook Press, a division of Random House LLC. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.