What is Forgiveness?
A concept that people often struggle with in counseling is the idea of self-forgiveness. Patients often ask, “How can I forgive myself for all the evil things I have done?” “Who am I to be forgiven?” So many Christians who battle with addiction struggle with believing that they are not worth the time and effort to maintain their sobriety. Addiction can become so ingrained in life that you start to believe the negative self-perception that you will always be an addict. This misconception that we are beyond grace or forgiveness no matter what we say or do can paralyze growth in the recovery process. Like many things in the recovery, self-forgiveness is a lifelong journey. As we slowly begin to forgive ourselves, we are allowing God’s grace to manifest in our lives.
“Anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!”(2 Corinthians 5:17). After we admit that there is a problem and begin to surrender our control, we allow God to bear our transgressions for us instead of against us. This enables the believer to make a searching and fearless moral inventory of their lives. It is only by owning (taking responsibility) for our actions in a humble and compassionate fashion, can we begin to make strides in the area of forgiveness. We hold ourselves accountable for all of our “garbage” and then we take out the trash.
This is easier said than done. Many Christians in addiction treatment struggle with the idea that God can forgive them for everything they have done. They hold on to self-pity, guilt and shame for the behaviors that manifested while in active addiction. This is a trap, a tool used by the disease of addiction to keep you in bondage.
Forgiveness takes faith; a humble look at things in our past that we cannot change and a daily effort to walk in the will of God for our lives. We may even slip up at times, but we are no longer defined by our addiction. In Christ we are all forgiven, cleansed and holy children of our father God. So now we must decide if we are going to sit in our garbage or allow God to clean up and make us whole.