To forgive ourselves is harder than to accept God’s forgiveness—but that is not the whole story.
When I was a prison minister, a Russian man stood after accepting Jesus as his Savior, and, as tears streamed down his face, sobbed: “I can’t forget what I’ve done to so many people.” Pictures of terrible things he had violently done flooded his mind. Confessing his sins to Jesus opened a floodgate of pain and pictures of blood.
I helped him the best I could by urging him to put the pain and pictures in the hands of the Lord who died a terrible death on the cross for all of his sins. This calmed him a bit, and his sobbing lessened, but I could tell there was an ocean of pain straining to be set free.
I remembered something I learned during my career as a psychologist. Pain often must be released the same way we deal with an onion: by peeling layer by layer. Cutting abruptly through an onion often overcomes us by what is released.
I pray that the prisoner has learned not to bury those memories but to admit them and place them in the Lord’s loving and forgiving hands—while living a Psalm 51 life.
Without organic damage, we never forget anything, but living memories can turn into bad memories. Some experiences are so traumatizing that for the rest of our lives we have a broken heart every time we remember them. Only by God’s grace can we live with them.
A broken and contrite heart that has an honest and humble spirit brings pleasure to God and strength to a servant. This is part of walking in the Spirit and finding contentment.
Claim the answer for living with painful memories. Don’t bury them and allow them to continue living inside of you.
(Photo courtesy of morguefile.)
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The Rev. Dr. Bob Segress served as a licensed psychological clinician for twenty-five years. Upon retiring, he served for fifteen years as a prison minister. Retiring again, he began writing full-time after a period of boredom. He has written: The Biblical Approach To Psychology while serving as a college educator, The Shelton Series, and, in 2012, Ten Years Inside Shelton Prison. Currently, he writes for several publications such as Halo Magazine.