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Updated on September 23, 2016 by Sarah Hartland Sarah Hartland

How to Forgive Yourself So You Can Forgive Others

There are few topics more universally poignant than forgiveness. We all have someone we have forgiven and someone who has forgiven us. In the family movie, “October Baby,” almost every character struggles through forgiveness in one way or another. For example, the main character, Hannah, is an abortion survivor who struggles to forgive her birth mother. Other characters in the film wrestle with what some would say is an even harder kind of forgiveness: forgiving themselves.

Forgiving yourself is the first step towards finding the freedom that Christ died to give us. When we are stuck in the past and focused on our own shortcomings and hurts, it is harder to forgive those around us. The worst kind of bondage is the imagined kind, and the chains of unforgiveness are not only unnecessary, but incredibly painful.

Throughout Scripture we are told what a gift forgiveness is and how crucial it is for us to forgive others. In Matthew 18, Jesus famously tells the disciples to forgive their neighbors “seventy-times-seven times.” In Matthew 5:24, Jesus instructs his listeners to reconcile with anyone they have a quarrel with before bringing a sacrifice at the temple.

Forgiveness in “October Baby”

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Forgiving others is especially hard if you have not forgiven yourself. In “October Baby,” Hannah meets Mary, the nurse that was present at her failed abortion and later her birth. Harboring guilt from sins committed long ago, Mary gives up nursing and lives alone- until Hannah comes knocking at her door looking for answers. Once Hannah forgives Mary, Mary begins to forgive herself, and she returns to the workforce as an OB/GYN nurse.

Hannah’s father must also forgive himself after feeling he has harmed his relationship with his daughter by keeping secrets from her. After apologizing to Hannah and making an effort to make things right, he is able to forgive himself and experience a restored relationship.

And perhaps the greatest “October Baby” example of forgiving yourself is Hannah’s birth mother, who must come to grips with the choices of her past.

All of these stories of forgiveness have something in common: Tweet: forgiving oneself and forgiving those around you are intricately linked. Perhaps that’s why Maya Angelou said, “It's one of the greatest gifts you can give yourself, to forgive. Forgive everybody.”

Truths That Will Help You Forgive Yourself

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If you’re struggling to make forgiveness a reality, whether you need to forgive yourself or someone else, there are some important truths you should reflect on. First, the most important thing to remember is that God has forgiven you and “remembers your sins no more” (Jeremiah 31:34). Remembering your sins are forgiven should help you accept that forgiveness, and help you forgive others (see Matthew 7:1-5; 1 Timothy 1:15).

Even the apostle Paul struggled with regret. In 1 Corinthians 15:9, he wrote, “For I am the least of the apostles, who am not worthy to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God.” But instead of being rendered useless by guilt and shame, Paul understood that the greater his sins, the greater God’s forgiveness.

Tweet: Like Paul, we must stop focusing on how great our sins are, and focus on how great God’s mercy is! http://ctt.ec/y40gA+ @sarahphartlandLike Paul, we must stop focusing on how great our sins are, and focus on how great God’s mercy is!

For a touching story about forgiveness and letting go, be sure to catch “October Baby” on Pure Flix September 23rd. You can watch this movie and hundreds of others for free during your one month Pure Flix trial subscription.

Read Also: Weak People Revenge, Strong People Forgive

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