One day as I was beating myself up for yet another emotional affair, my best friend interrupted me with these sobering words: “Do you know what you are saying about the blood that Jesus shed for you when you refuse to forgive yourself for your past? You are saying that His blood wasn’t good enough for you. It didn’t have enough power to cleanse you.” She was right. Underlying all of my self-pity was the belief that what Jesus did for me couldn’t possibly be enough to rid me of my stain. I needed some special miracle to set me free, and until I got that miracle, I had to beat myself up as an act of penance.
If this rings true for you as well, then guess what? The Holy Spirit is telling you the same thing He told me back then: Jesus opened your prison door. It’s up to you to walk out!
How do you do this? By forgiving every person who has ever brought you pain, including yourself. If God does not despise you for the ways you have tried to fill the void in your heart, neither should you.
Paul preached, “Righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus” (Romans 3:22-24).
In other words:
~ Righteousness does not come from perfect living, but as a gift from God.
~ We receive this gift not by our worthiness, but simply by faith in Jesus Christ (and in the blood He shed for the redemption of our sins).
~ We are justified freely by God’s grace — no strings attached.
When we are justified, it is “just as if I’d never done those things.” So why do we continue beating ourselves up? Why do we allow our misery to affect our mental and physical health?
You don’t have to carry all that emotional baggage. Surrender your pain and your backpack full of guilt and shame; it is only making you tired and crabby. Travel light and let the joy of the Lord be your strength! Letting go of bitterness fosters healthy changes in our attitudes, promotes healthy changes in our bodies, lowers blood pressure and heart rate, boosts self-esteem, and gives feelings of hope and peace.
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Excerpted from Every Woman’s Battle: Discovering God’s Plan for Sexual and Emotional Fulfillment by Shannon Ethridge. Copyright 2003. All Rights Reserved. Published by WaterBrook Press, Colorado Springs, CO 80921. Used by Permission. Not to be copied without Publisher’s prior written approval.