|(My feet, in Hockeytown Restaurant, Detroit)|
I'm thinking of the inmate at Mansfield (Ohio) State Correctional Center who asked me to pray for him. I said, "I would love to pray for you."
He said, "Pray that I could forgive myself."
Yes, I will.
"Because," he said, "I cannot forgive myself for killing my parents."
One reason that request affected me so much is that I have, in my own moral and spiritual failure, sometimes felt unable to forgive myself. I meet many people plagued by the hell-designed incapacity to self-forgive. How can we do this?
Everett Worthington says that "repentance and humility are at the core of breaking free from self-blame." (Worthington, Moving Forward: Six Steps to Forgiving Yourself and Breaking Free from the Past, p. 76) To be repentant and humble people need to do three things:
- Accept responsibility for your wrongdoing.
- Feel and show regret and remorse for what you did.
- Realize that making up for the wrongdoing and repairing the relationships damaged by the wrongdoing is going to be costly in time, effort, and self-sacrifice. (In Ib., 77)
Failure to accept responsibility "shoots forgiveness in the foot - and makes it difficult for the one we harmed to forgive us as well." (Ib.)
Conversely, three things render self-forgiveness impossible:
- Acting like a victim, and blaming others for your wrongdoing.
- Showing little or no remorse for what you did.
- Expecting that repairing the damaged relationships will be a quick fix (which often leads to blaming others for their "inability to forgive." Like: "Aren't you over this yet?")
Worthington's book is one of the best books on self-forgiveness there is.
My two books are: