I am one of five children and the only girl. I am also the youngest, and therefore, the cream of the crop.
Each child in our family has their own particular blend of personality traits and quirks. For example, my parents at one point deemed me “the observer” because I would often position myself a little bit back from whatever was happening and watch first before delving into things myself.
First of all, in my defense, I would like to say that if I had been invited to play more by my brothers, I probably wouldn’t have been given such a creepy label. Second, I have very large eyes, so I think just having them open may have given people the perception that I was looking on, but really I was just awake/conscious.
Another part of my make-up as a person is my pressing need to unburden myself of any guilt/wrongdoing, etc that I’m associated with — whether I really did something “wrong” or not.
As an example of this, when I was all of about 8 years old – my four brothers and I stayed home one night while our parents went out to dinner. We were rarely left alone at home without parental supervision, but on this particular night we were. Keep in mind (aka don’t call Child Services), my oldest brother is 10 years older than me (which would have made him 18 at the time) and he was in charge of the ranks. We played various games that night…which would best be pictured as chaos incarnate. At one point, in a fit of anger, I decided to bite down on my brother James’ hand as hard as possible. Spoiler Alert: He was fine, although a scar did developed down the line (ha).
Well, at the end of the night (which was probably a total of 1.5 hours after they left), my parents came home and walked into my tiny room to check on me. So ensued an epic unloading of all of our wrongdoings that night and culminated in my voice, broken and worn from my reporting, calling out loudly in the sorrow of my guilt — “AND SOMETIMES… I BITE JAMES!”. My brothers, sitting just on the other side of my bedroom wall, heard all of this unfold and were caught betwixt terror and laughter. But I had had it, the tremendous strain and weight of holding on to the guilt of my wrongdoing had overcome me and now, mainly my brothers, were in lots of trouble.
Was anyone else a weird little kid?
You see, I was, and remain, always ready to heave off any guilt that I may be feeling via an open, emotional, and vigorous verbal purge of what happened/what I did wrong. This is in some ways, a strength, but it can also tap into some unhealthy ways of thinking. It can be good, because I’m ready and willing (most of the time) to admit what I’ve done wrong and apologize. But it can bleed into some troublesome issues of self-condemnation and struggling to forgive myself even after God has. Conviction and confession is good for the soul, but self-condemnation and the inability to forgive yourself isn’t.
So, what’s the point of this story? I guess it’s simply to encourage you in a few things about sin/guilt/confession/forgiveness.
First, know that God doesn’t want us to play the game of condemnation.
Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus- Romans 8:1 (NIV)
Don’t get it twisted — there is conviction for our sins, which leads us to repentance — but the heavy sorrow and weight of guilt that comes with condemnation is not of God. If it’s not of God — don’t have any part of it. Conviction says, I was wrong. Condemnation says, I am wrong — me, there’s a wrongness about me. Should I bite people? No. Am I broken beyond repair and unloveable? Not at all.
Second, God wants us to receive forgiveness from Him, be able to forgive ourselves, and move forward. In my life, it has been a real struggle at times to offer myself forgiveness. Not just when I do something wrong to another person, but also when I do something displeasing to God that doesn’t even impact other people — sins of the inner-self, like thinking that thought that you shouldn’t think, etc. In situations like this, we must cling even harder to the word of God instead of wallowing in the guilt of our sin.
And what does the Word of God say? God has a lot to say about the nature of His forgiveness:
As far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us. – Psalm 103:12 (NIV)
…you have put all my sins behind your back. – Isaish 38:17b (NIV)
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. – 1 John 1:9 (NIV)
Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord – Acts 3:19
If God is willing and able to wipe out my sins and never remember them again, then who I am to keep holding them against myself? Don’t get me wrong, it is good to share our wrongdoings with others and ask for prayer and help (i.e., don’t bite people). But please, let’s grab hold of this today — when you confess your sins to God, receive His forgiveness and believe that He has truly let it go, never, EVER to be remembered again (Hebrews 8: 12, Isaiah 43:25). And then forgive yourself. Keeping yourself trapped in what He’s already freed you from helps no one, not even yourself.
God is good and His love for you is great. There is so much offered to us as children of God in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Not just salvation for our future but power, mercy, and grace for the here and now. Grab hold of all that God offers His children, on the deepest level – in your heart of hearts. Live free of your condemnation and be washed in the blood of the lamb that makes us whiter than the snow (Isaiah 1:18). And as Jesus said in the Bible to so many that He set free, He does NOT condemn us, He calls us out of our sin and to follow him, living in freedom and the light (John 8).
When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” – John 8:12 (NIV).