Forgiving Yourself

23 thoughts on “Forgiving Yourself”

  1. This blog reminded me of something from Springsteen on Broadway: “We are ghosts or we are ancestors in our children’s lives. We either lay our mistakes, our burdens upon them, and we haunt them, or we assist them in laying those old burdens down and we free them from the chain of our own flawed behavior. And as ancestors, we walk alongside of them, and we assist them in finding their own way and some transcendence.”

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    1. That’s terrific stuff. It’s flattering that what I’ve written brought that mind. The passage you quote also reminds me of passage in his memoir Born to Run. Thanks, Bob!

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  2. I identify with everything you’ve said. Since I “saw” my father forgiven and then forgave in full, I found my own forgiveness. The shame thing pretty much vanished then of its own accord, slowly. Then I started to feel a genuine love that I didn’t have to “try” to do. I really felt it.. really feel it. Then genuine joy, not “put on” joy. Then gratitude – this is very new, maybe in the last month I recognised it. I’m still walking along with you Jake, encouraged by the insights you share and I want to affirm what you’re saying, that this is also my experience too. God bless

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    1. Pretty cool that we’re walking along together half a world away from each other. Still grieving for you and all of NZ. And I am in awe of the decisive response by your political leadership. Blessings, Liz!

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      1. We in NZ mourn but the reaching out, both ways, between Muslims and other NZers is nothing short of miraculous. I’ve never seen so many different groups joining together in unity, sharing our hearts as NZers.

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  3. I really resonate with what you say. The more I forgave my father, the more I learned to celebrate his many good qualities , especially the ones I inherited. When I was dwelling on his faults, I projected them on God the Father and my image of God was damaged. During those years, I dwelt moore on God the Creator. Now I am glad to see the image of God in my father…..and in me! Thank you for these good words! Deacon Belle

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  4. Jake, I’ll always remember a time in London, going to see a priest at All Saints, Margaret Street to make my confession. By this time, the priest sat side by side with the confessee. After the sad recitation of my recent misdemeanors, the priest looked at me and said “Ron, do you not know that God takes the rubbish of our lives and makes something good out of it?” I’ve never forgotten that; and my vocation, first as a Franciscan Brother and thern a secular priest became the fruits of that .

    Somehow, after our recent Christchurch tragedy, we Kiwis have learned that Muslims – and everyone else in our community – are our brothers and sisters, beloved of God as each one of us is. That is the stuff of redemption.

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  5. Spot on, reverend. I asked Spirit yesterday what I needed to address next and there you were. In fact, there are several large neon signs pointing to “Your Father.”

    By the way, are you at the DBB retreat at Lake Junaluska? My friend Cathy Keaton is there. You two should meet.

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  6. This post brought tears to my eyes because we all grapple with guilt in one form or another. But God is not about guilt. Guilt comes from our own ego. God is only about love. Your words resonate with me today as I continue to work to find peace in my heart. Thanks.

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  7. Dear Bishop Jake,
    This was the PERFECT post at the perfect time. As someone in the discernment process, focusing on those “cringeworthy moments” (and yes, I used that EXACT term when discussing it with my discernment committee) put a block between what I hear and what God’s call may truly be. I hope that you won’t mind if I pinch a couple of sentences from this Blog Post for my Sermon on 6th Lent. It fits so well with the entire theme….

    Peace in Christ

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    1. Bret, I’m glad to hear that the timing of this post worked so well for you. Blessings on your continued discernment. Mine is lifelong and life-wide, and I pray the same for you! Do please pinch away, and share your work with me if you’re so inclined. It would be a delight to read it. Lenten blessings……

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  8. It was like you wrote this post just for me Father Jake. Thank you so much for sharing your wisdom and insight. I have struggled with shame, perfectionism, and earning love and my worth my whole life. I have been reminded by you again today that love is a gift and I don’t have to be perfect to be loved and accepted. I wonder if you have any other suggestions for do the work of forgiving myself? I believe that would bring a lot of healing to me. My brother committed suicide in April 2017 and 10 months later my father committed suicide. I am carrying around a lot of guilt and shame over their deaths. I have forgiven them because I understand why they did it but I don’t think I have fully forgiven myself yet. I keep thinking I should have done more to help them and love them when they were alive, like there was something I should have done to prevent this and I did not do it. I don’t know how to forgive myself for letting this happen to them. How do I forgive myself? Are there any resources out there to help me do this work of forgiving myself? Thank you very much!

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    1. Oh, Tammy, your last two years have filled with such pain! I can see how hard this has been and how hard you struggle to find your footing. I do think that the chapter on Shame in A Resurrection Shaped Life might be helpful. Brene Brown’s work on perfectionism and shame really resonated with me: books as well a TED talk. Time and friends willing to sit through difficult times with you (without offering advice) have been huge in my life. This is such a heavy weight to bear. When I’ve got a burden I can’t carry anymore or don’t know what to do with, sometimes it helps me to imagine handing it (in some form that makes sense to me) to Christ each day or even several times a day as I feel that I need it. The shame I have felt was that kind of burden. Maybe it is so with you. Hang in there, my friend. It might not help at the moment, but I pray that you can remember that you are loved exactly as you are and nothing can change that.

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      1. Thank you Father Jake. I appreciate your kind response. I will continue to work on releasing my shame and guilt and the example you gave of handing it over to Jesus is very helpful to me. Thank you so much! Blessings!

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  9. Bishop Owensby, thank you again for this reflection. I have just finished A RESURRECTION SHAPED LIFE. Picked it up during the season of Lent… and managed to pick it up again to finish it the last week of July 2021. From the beginning to the end, I have been drawn in to your reflections and your transparency in reflecting upon your life experiences. Thank you for your insightfulness. Looking forward to your next book, LOOKING FOR GOD IN THE MESSY PLACES. Peace

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