It’s that time of year where the ladies from the church steal away for a few days to spend time together in God’s word and become rejuvenated. This is only my second year being a part of this retreat but I can’t tell you how excited I am. I’ve been counting the days and hours when I get to jump in the car and head to the coast for relaxation and growth. I’m excited for what God has in store.
Last year, I was pretty broken. I had all but lost hope in God. In people. In myself. Then, a friend told me to come with her to a retreat. No strings attached. Just a bunch of women who loved God and each other. There would be no passing of judgement. It was just a time of fun and fellowship. At this point I was willing to do anything to feel something other than complete and utter emptiness. And so I went.
The first day I got to know a little more of a woman who I had been introduced to at a barbecue. We talked about everything under the sun. Somehow we began to talk about infertility and miscarriage. That is not a topic that I, before that day, willingly spoke up about. It was, after all, the very thing that began to spiral my life out of control. It wasn’t until that very day that I understood why God brought me to that retreat. For forgiveness.
It wasn’t about receiving His forgiveness. Although, after the life I was living it was definitely something I sought. Rather, it was the act of forgiving myself. You see, somewhere between accepting a job at a retail stsore and that very moment my life was a shamble. I became someone I didn’t recognize. I burnt bridges that shouldn’t have been burnt. I was full of anger, hurt, and guilt. So full of regret I stood in a service listening to the words of a song.
And I will call upon Your name
And keep my eyes above the waves
When oceans rise, my soul will rest in Your embrace
For I am Yours and You are mine
It stirred in me.
I began to remember the reason why I came to Christ when I was a teenager. I remembered that no matter how evil I was God loved me and I needed to learn to love myself even after what I’ve done. That weekend, He reached down, took the water out of my lungs, and gave me breath again. Then He said, “Sometimes the person we must most forgive is ourselves.”
I had decided somewhere that I deserved the horrible life I lived because of the horrible person I was. Every day I woke up saying that I deserved to be broken. I knew everyone made mistakes but that didn’t stop me from hating myself. It wasn’t until that weekend last year that I saw how much my guilt and self-loathing contributed to my very unstable mental health. And so, that weekend I forgave myself.
Through the last year I’ve been on the pursuit to forgive myself for the things I felt guilty for. And as I continued to forgive myself I’ve become stronger in my mental health. I’m not saying I’m perfect. I still struggle with my depression. But, I also know that forgiving myself is a daily thing. Even when I don’t think I deserve it. Again and again until I find peace.
What are you holding on to that will not allow you to find your peace? Forgive yourself. Grow from the experience. Don’t be hard on yourself for the things you didn’t know that you’ve since learned.
And if you need a hand up, I’m right here. xoxo