When we do something that causes pain or disappointment to another individual (intentional or not), but the recipient sees his or her way to exonerate our indiscretion, the oppressive weight we feel lifts from our shoulders, thus creating a sensation of relief. Happiness invades our hearts, freeing our mind and body and this allows us to move forward once again. Forgiveness is truly one of the greatest gifts we can bestow on another human soul. So, my Lenten question today is “Why is it so hard to forgive ourselves?”

Self-forgiveness has always been a massive wall that has hindered my continued growth. I grew up with a deplorable case of “people pleaser syndrome.” From the time I was young enough to understand that my actions elicited a response from my parents and brothers, I strove to never make mistakes and be perfect. I wanted to make everyone happy and by doing so, I would, in turn, be accepted and loved. Because of this, my life has been riddled with angst over the blunders I periodically make. I deplore feeling stupid, and when that emotion hits the surface, I find my throat constricting and the sensation of choking makes me want to run in the opposite direction and hide. Logically I know mistakes are just that – a mistake. Nothing that was intended and something everyone does. They are everyday occurrences and not the end of the world – but for me, they seem to be horrific.

Recently, a friend reminded me that while Jesus died on that wooden cross to free us from sin, He also suffered that torturous death to release us from our personal torment that eats away at our core. She suggested that every time I feel weak, lost, sad, lonely, or even stupid, to place those emotions on the cross and let Him carry them.

Over the course of 58 years, I’ve struggled financially, emotionally, physically, and spiritually, but each time, if I lifted my heart to God and begged to find my way, He has never failed me. His answer may not be the one I was looking for, but if I accepted it, I once again found peace and ultimately happiness.

Perhaps it’s time I stopped worrying about whether I please the world or not. If Jesus can forgive me, especially for the stupid things I do, then it’s time I learned to forgive myself as I do others. What an amazing gift that will be.