What if I hadn’t called? What if I said what I needed to say? What if I hadn’t lost my temper? What if I had listened? What if I got a chance to do it again, differently? (Insert deep sigh)
Regret and thoughts of “what if”, can permeate and prevent us from seeing the colors in life. Because we do not believe that we are worth forgiving we can remain stuck for years blaming ourselves when the very people we may have hurt would have long ago forgiven us. To be honest, further complexity is added when we will not receive forgiveness or forgiveness is not granted to us. Forgiving ourselves for our transgressions, whether intentionally or unintentionally conducted is one of the more difficult of life’s scripts. Remember that penny I asked you to save in part 1? Some of you have assessed your value to be much less than the coin. But no matter your transgression, if you are truly sorrowful for the hurt and harm caused through your actions or inactions, you are worth infinitely more than a penny. Our Lord suffered and died for a penny like you. It is never too late, even when time and scenery may depict otherwise. Our Lord puts commas where we put periods. There are always paths to ask for forgiveness and make repairs. A crucial element is that true forgiveness must come from the heart. We may unknowingly cycle through the stages of grief in attempting to manage the punishments that remorse and self-blame imprint upon our heart.
Kübler-Ross’s 5-stage model of grief with self-blame looks like this:
- Denial: “It isn’t true. This can’t have happened.”
- Anger: “She/he else is to blame. This isn’t fair to me. Why would they/I do that?”
- Bargaining: “I will do whatever I need to do to make this go away. But I am not ready yet.”
- Depression: “There is no hope anymore. I can’t handle this.”
- Acceptance: “It is going to be okay. I don’t like it, but I can bear it.”
Struggling through these stages as it relates to regret and self-blame can be beneficial. Like Scrooge who visited Christmas past, the struggle can allow us to grow in character and clarity and to understand what is good, important, valuable, and meaningful. Such clarity and understanding clears our mind of the heavy cloud of guilt so we can show up, see the colors of life, and intentionally move towards mending the pains of our present and past comportment.
Talk about your concerns with someone you trust. Be honest with yourself. Admit and accept your mistakes and regrets, and do not justify. Make amends with the person, do something in their memory that was meaningful to them, look at the positive outcomes of what has happened. Accept your imperfections.
1 John 1:9: “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”
If God forgives you, who are you to hold onto things that restrict you from serving His purpose? Stop checking out! It’s time to flip that penny and check back in. Heads, God forgives you. Tails, you forgive you. Either way, you are holding a lucky penny.
In part 3, I will give you my two-cents worth for how to offer forgiveness to another.
Until next week!
Dr. Marie Yvette Hernández-Seltz is the director of Candescent Counseling, Consulting & Coaching. She holds a PhD in Clinical Psychology and an MS in Industrial/Organizational Psychology. She has spent the past 15 years studying self-esteem, self-confidence, responsibility, and the effects of environment and culture on the individual.