Forgiving Yourself: 3 Things You Need to Know

With love in her eyes, a new friend explained:

“She’s having trouble forgiving herself.”

I understood all too well:

Years ago, I learned to forgive myself — no, receive God’s forgiveness of me and let Jesus’ ransom be enough — for being in an affair with a married man. I know how hard it can feel. It’s not “logical,” to be forgiven for something that the world may say is unforgivable. BUT GOD.

The good news is that God sees you as lovable even when it’s not “logical.” And anyone who has a problem with His decision, can take it up with Him. Through encountering His forgiveness, here are 10 things I’ve learned:

1. LIVIN’ like you’re forgiven is a process. 

I do believe that when He forgives, God redeems instantaneously. Unfortunately, I think there’s often this misconception that it means we’ll instantly feel like the sin never happened.

In our on-demand, instant-gratification culture, anything that we can’t microwave, fast forward, skip over, save for later, binge on in a weekend, or adjust to our preference feels…weird, like a waste, or like it didn’t work.

Just because you don’t feel forgiven doesn’t mean you aren’t, when you ask God to.

This why you may here me talk about “living redeemed.”

Redemption is not just a single step in our lives. It’s a lifestyle. I truly believe redemption is also a mindset — not just a moment or milestone. And that mindset comes from the process of renewing our minds.

Withdrawal symptoms? Yes. 

In fact, there is literally renewal that needs to happen in your brain. Healing that needs to happen. I often compare it to what I imagine drug-addiction withdrawal being like.

Not only is sin spiritually ensnaring, but the acts associated with sin also release hormones or toxins that can alter our chemistry. For example, emotionally, physical, and/or sexual intimacy with someone not only creates soul ties, but it also alters our hormones and chemistry.

(Maybe check out Dr. Caroline Leaf’s 21-Day Brain Detox?)

Your body and brain will literally need to adjust to having fewer of those pleasant hormone releases — and especially in the early days of trying to walk away — that recalibration (my opinion) can create a sensation of not being forgiven.

Or it’s like this:

When someone’s in a physical wreck of some kind — a car accident, for example — and they temporarily lose the use of their legs, they have to re-learn how to walk, right?

They have to intentionally — despite how it might feel and no matter what onlookers think — put one foot in front of the other (usually with support or assistance).

Eventually, as they persist on the new path — they get stronger. It gets easier. But sadly, too many people give up. They turn a temporary into a permanent that was never meant to be.

2. Talk back when the Liar talks smack!

There was a moment when I decided I would forgive myself. That I would walk away from the relationship and in a new direction. But after repenting of the affair, I would still feel taunted by shame or condemnation.

I remember moments when a hissing whisper would try to recall memories of the affair. “Remember when you…?” or “You don’t really think you’re forgiven for all that, do you?”

You see, he was trying to get me to agree with him that I wasn’t forgiven after all. He was trying to get me to revoke MY own forgiveness. It’s that powerful.

So what did I do?

I learned to literally speak out loud: 

“I’m sorry — you’re talking about someone I used to be. Someone I’m not anymore. If you have a problem with me being forgiven, take it up with the One who decided to make that forgiveness possible.”

The same thing goes — be it with a person or a demon. When you’ve been forgiven for something, that’s it. 2 Corinthians 5:17 says “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!”

You see that at the end of the verse?

That’s not just a period. That’s an exclamation point.

That’s not just any ol’ punctuation. That’s a mic drop!

The new has come — period-boom-mic-drop-done.

And anyone who has a problem with the fact that anyone in Christ becomes a new creation? Tell ’em to take it up with God, the one who decided to make our redemption possible through His saving grace and Jesus’ sacrifice. (I’m totally serious.)

3. No offense, but it’s not just about you.

One of my greatest JOYS now is taking what was intended for my harm (the sin of adultery) and flipping the script. REIGNING on the enemy’s parade, as I like to say.

Flexing my God-given, Christ-bought authority and royalty and crushing the enemy’s efforts in other people’s lives. Or taking my story and unlocking others’ cells of shame or unforgiveness.Not by my might or strength or awesomeness — but because of God’s.

Our stories are vehicles that can carry Christ’s hope and God’s love to the lost or wounded. Too many of us get in a “wreck” and say “I’m never getting behind the wheel again!”

And not because God has revoked your “license” — but because you have decided to shut yourself away in unforgiveness. Please don’t do that. There are wounded still on the battlefields that we have survived.

Battlefields that we the redeemed know well.

Some of the most formidable, effective warriors are the ones who have already seen battle. Who have already learned the terrain. Who have already been behind enemy lines.

Your enemy would love nothing more than to use unforgiveness to bully you back from the battlefield you know well. No, that doesn’t mean you return to the sinning — but it does mean that you return for the winning.

Yes, God absolutely wants to see you free from the shame or unforgiveness. But if you’ll let Him, He also wants to use you to go back for more captives who, right about now are feeling like lost causes…maybe as you once did. (Definitely as I once did.)

Once I realized that my story was part of his demise or frustration (See Revelation 12:11)? Game on. It spurred me in all the more to receive and believe God’s forgiveness.

Because, after all, He is God — not me. And if He decides that whom the Sons free is free indeed…

…then who am I to disagree?

With love,


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  • Natalie Higgs says:

    Ohmygosh, this post is EXACTLY what I needed to read!
    Your posts are always SO encouraging…thank you! :)