I actually touched a little on this topic on my podcast that I just started up... I believe it was episode 4 where I spoke briefly about why it is important to forgive yourself even for the most shameful things and by that I am including harming others... in this post I wanted to talk about it even more just because self- forgiveness has been a huge, HUGE part of my journey...
When I was mentally ill and troubled with trauma disassociation, I would throw fits of rage and physically assault my intimate partners. For the longest time up until this last year I would replay the things I did while mentally ill daily. Nothing positive ever came from reliving those dark memories in my mind, it usually only lead me to wanting to numb out my feelings with substances or it would make me feel so guilty and ashamed in myself, causing low self-esteem and well, heightened my inner anger because I wasn't who I wanted to be inside. There was a big piece of me that seemed to have been missing... purpose.
The memories were like this giant demon that I couldn't seem to escape, constantly lingering in my mind yet somehow, I seemed to be comfortable with keeping them around... now that I look back on this space I was in, I can recall feeling like I didn't deserve to heal or be freed from these shameful times. I believe it was also hard for me to forgive myself because I was told some pretty terrible things from others regarding what I did when I was ill.
What I had done was in fact wrong and yes, there were consequences for my actions, even more so than going to jail, having a record, and being shamed by others... although those were all terrible feelings to sit with, nothing could compare to the guilt and shame I felt on a daily basis. Still to this day I regret causing harm to people while sick and although there is no valid excuse for harming others, what's done is done and I can't turn back now. All I can do is move forward and strive to be the best version of me, however, just this mindset alone wouldn't have gotten me to the healthier place I am now where I am openly talking about such shameful things...
I remember pounding myself in the head with, "Why did this happen? There has to be a reason. My story is not done yet". And the cool thing is, I was right. Through building a relationship with Christ I have far more clarity over the events of my life, why they happened and how I can use them for God's glory today by using my wisdom over such issues to help others... mind you I am still trying to pinpoint how specifically I can help people through my story.
I know for a fact that other people are out there who are ashamed of their pasts like I was. I know there are people struggling every day with self-esteem, self-worth, finding their purpose, and wrestling with mental health issues but who can actually help these people? People who know nothing of these matters from personal experience but only know what they do from books and school? Sure, knowledge helps but experience and knowledge can help people far more because it's relatable.
Our stories are valuable in the sense that they can be a light into other people's lives and troubles. Think about it... if someone is struggling with mental health issues like say, depression and they hear someone else talk about their struggles with depression and how they are overcoming, it can be inspiring and also speak truths into the person who is struggling.
Had I not been cleansed of my sins and made the conscious effort to forgive myself, I would probably not be talking about my dark past at all, I would still be hiding behind all of my troubles and lies which is exactly what Satan would want for any of us to do.
If you are struggling today with self-esteem, self-worth, finding your God given purpose, or ridding yourself from a dark past these following verses really helped me...
1. “Cast your burden on the Lord, and He shall sustain you; He shall never permit the righteous to be moved” (Psalm 55:22). God is glad to carry your burdens and give you the daily strength you need.
2. “Is this not the fast that I have chosen: To loose the bonds of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, to let the oppressed go free, and that you break every yoke?” (Isaiah 58:6). It’s not God’s will that you should be crushed down with excessive burdens; let Him free you today.
3. “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light” (Matthew 11:28–30). Jesus will remove your heavy burden of guilt and hopelessness and give you true rest in Him.
4. “For I, the Lord your God, will hold your right hand, saying to you, ‘Fear not, I will help you’” (Isaiah 41:13). God promises to support and help you through every trial.
5. “Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you” (1 Peter 5:6, 7). Just knowing your heavenly Father cares about you personally can make any load seem lighter.
6. “Even to your old age, I am He, and even to gray hairs I will carry you! I have made, and I will bear; even I will carry, and will deliver you” (Isaiah 46:4). The Lord desires to constantly support you throughout your life, with the intention of saving you eternally.
7. “He will feed His flock like a shepherd; He will gather the lambs with His arm, and carry them in His bosom” (Isaiah 40:11). The Good Shepherd will gladly bear you in His gentle arms right now.