I have encountered a lot of broken souls in my law enforcement career. Addicts, abusers, runaways, homeless, incarcerated, paroled and more. I’ve spoken with the haunted and angry, as well as the broken and defeated. So many sad and empty eyes that once shined with hope and promise.
If there are any cracks in your protective emotional armor, this mass of tragic humanity can break your heart. So many people carrying huge emotional burdens. They’re seemingly unable to break through their pain and truly live again.
There are no neat and tidy solutions that fit every injured spirit, but there is one thing we all must do if we want a better life. If you can allow yourself to do this, you will free yourself to begin living anew. You will create a path to personal growth, better habits and greater fulfillment. What is this healing thing? Forgive yourself.
Father Matt Pennington is a Roman Catholic priest. He used to serve in our local church before moving on to another parish. Father Matt has a gift for storytelling and stirring homilies. In his blog, Journal of a Country Priest, he touched on this notion of self forgiveness by sharing a recording of his June 29, 2014 homily “Rise Up!” Whether you are a person of faith or not, this message of forgiving yourself is important.
As Father Matt alluded to, perhaps you are an alcoholic who has hurt many people in your life. Maybe you chose not to have the baby and are conflicted with the decision. Perhaps you weren’t really there for your children. Whatever it is, forgive yourself. You are not perfect, none of us are. The sins of our past don’t define who we choose to be today and who we will be in the future. Acknowledge that you stumbled. You blew it. You hurt people. Scars and bad blood and a lot of carnage may have been left in your wake.
You may have to pay some dues, make things as right as you can, apologize to those hurt. Some will never forgive you. But in the end, you have to forgive yourself. You have to unshackle that burden. Allow for the statute of limitations on past transgressions to end. I know, you don’t think you deserve it. You don’t think you can. But you’re wrong. It really is possible to forgive yourself. And then move on. Why? Because a better life requires this.