Forgiving Ourselves as We Forgive Others

Not my secret project – just a pic for illustration

I have been working on a special knitting project and it is coming along nicely.  I am very pleased with my progress on it and how it looks.  Unfortunately, I noticed this morning that I missed a crossover in the intricate cable pattern about 10 rows back.  Now the question of the day is:  do I rip the project back and redo that row or do I let it go?  I thought about it for a while and decided to let it go.  The cable pattern will look even more intricate with one (or two or three) mistake.  No two cables the same!  It’s a feature!  I don’t have much trouble forgiving knitting mistakes.

Generally, my philosophy in knitting is to let mistakes go.  Most people will never notice them.  Sometimes the error is so glaring that I can’t live with it and I rip out what I have knitted and start over.  I wished my knitting philosophy worked as well in real life as it does in my knitting.

What do you do when you make a mistake in life?  Some people ignore it and move on.  I have never been able to do that.  The mistake sticks out in my mind and I look at it over and over again.  I especially dwell on the mistake when it hurts someone else.  I apologize and beg forgiveness.  If the other person forgives me, I can move on.  If they don’t, I have a hard time letting go.  I continue trying to fix the mistake long past the time I should have brushed the dust off my feet.

Most of my mistakes are unintentional.  A harsh word spoken at a moment of weakness.  Selfishness only seen with 20/20 hindsight.  Something I did that hurt another person when I had no idea that they would respond in that way.  I am truly repentant.  I say I’m sorry, hoping it will be enough.  Sometimes people are willing to forgive and sometimes they are not.

I don’t have much trouble forgiving others.  It is a lot harder for me to forgive myself when I hurt someone.  The friends I’ve had over the years have learned that, eventually, I am going to say the wrong thing.  The ones that are still my friends are the ones that graciously forgive me.

Some people don’t care when they hurt others.  Certain people seem to think they can say or do whatever they want with impunity.  They don’t seem to care how it may destroy lives.  I am not one of those people.  When I hurt someone, I am terribly sorry.

Forgiving ourselves can be even more difficult than forgiving others.  And yet, when God commands us to forgive, isn’t God also instructing us to forgive ourselves?  “And whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father also who is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses.”  Mark 11:25.  Forgive if you have anything against anyone.  You are as important as anyone else, so you must learn to forgive yourself as well.  Forgive yourself so that you can move on, move forward, and be forgiven.

What we did in the past is over.  We cannot undo it.  As long as we refuse to forgive ourselves, that past holds us in chains.  Forgiving ourselves is the only way to move on with our lives and become the people God wants us to be.

  • bethannchiles

    I struggle with the same thing. It is so much easier for me to forgive others than it is for me to actually forgive myself for something that I have done that causes another person pain or hurt. This is a great post, Karen. Thanks for sharing!

    • revkaren54

      Thanks Beth Ann. We seem to be willing to give others the benefit of the doubt but have a hard time doing the same thing for ourselves. Glad God forgives.

  • Kristine Moye

    God has blessed me with a forgiving heart and short term memory. Yes, I beat myself up for awhile – like you, I am just heartbroken when something I do or say hurts someone – but ultimately I can’t dwell on what I don’t remember 😊

    • revkaren54

      Some benefits to getting older. I like that the idea of developing short-term memory loss about mistakes.

  • revkaren54

    By the way, after I wrote this post, I spent several hours ripping the secret project back to the mistake and fixing it. Wish everything could be fixed that easily.

  • Brenda Ferguson

    To not forgive leads to such a heavy heart & adds such lingering sadness that I find myself asking for forgiveness even for the most trivial of things…it always feels so much better to have it off my heart and thank God for the strength & guidance to do the right thing…& then as you say, we look ahead!

    • revkaren54

      Give it to God and let it go. Good advice!