Refusing Forgiveness

An unwillingness to forgive ourselves will often keep us from believing that others can forgive us as well. By refusing forgiveness we are in essence rejecting the fact that we are not in complete control of ourselves or others in situations that happen to and around us.

We will all fail at some point and have lapses in judgement…it is what we do about it that makes the difference. Do we do our best to set it right and learn from it? Or does it cause us to withdraw in fear of punishment or retaliation?

Too often we condemn and punish ourselves in a much more severe way than anyone else would. While outwardly we may put on a façade that belies our insecurity, inwardly we feel like we have failed beyond repair. People seem to have one of two reasons why they have this difficulty:

1 – those who can admit their mistakes but can’t accept forgiveness because they have failed to meet up to their own perfect standard…they have failed themselves.

2 – those who can’t admit their mistake or seek forgiveness because then they would have to admit that they have failed to live up to what they think is the expected perfect standard…they have failed others.

While we are responsible for our actions, we are not always in complete control over them. While it is important to strive for self-control, none of us are perfect. Sometimes our reactions are far from ideal which is why we so desparately need forgiveness. If we refuse forgiveness, we are hurting ourselves and those who care about us by rejecting the very thing that will enable us to rise above our situation once again.

If we try to justify our actions rather than admitting our mistake, we continue to deceive ourselves. If our action was right, then we will be vindicated. If our action was wrong, then we need to correct what we can, accept forgiveness, and humbly strive to learn from our mistake.

In accepting forgiveness we are acknowledging that we are human. We are no better than anyone else, however, we are not of less value either making us unworthy to receive such consideration. Forgiveness is the missing link to restoration…without it we stay stuck in our repeated cycles of behavior. We need to grant ourselves the mercy and grace that we would extend to others. Restoration will only come if we finally accept forgiveness from God, others, and ourselves.

Why is it that such a common problem makes us feel so alone? Every single person struggles with this in some way or another and yet we try so hard to keep it hidden. This unwilllingness to consider forgiveness separates families, friends, and whole communities. We are either too afraid or too proud to admit we need more than we ask for…that we struggle with the same things as everyone else and need help.

We need to extend compassion to others who struggle, but we need to also extend that same compassion to ourselves…to accept it from others, and stop refusing forgiveness.