Lets just think for a moment on all those times we’ve said something so stupid, or so embarrassing, that it makes you want to simply vanish off the face of the earth.
Awful, aren’t they?
Perhaps it may have even been something nasty.
If you say something mean to a person, that hurts feelings and can destroy friendships. To make up for it, you have to say sorry not only to your victim, but God as well. And yes, some things you say, or do, remain with people for ever….Everyone knows about that don’t they?
All of us as Catholics, and simply all mankind who have a sensible and kind head, know that it is important to say sorry.
But here’s the thing: as well as apologising to God for any inappropriate, nasty, or offensive behaviour, and your victims, you have to be able to forgive yourself, too. Now, please don’t think I’m becoming all anti-contrite or sin-doesn’t-exist because I’m not. I simply want to stress a different point of the consequences of sinning.
The worst thing is, sometimes you can never forgive yourself. You may spend far longer than necessary, meditating on that awful/embarrassing mistake you made, and beating yourself up about it. Too many times I have found myself in this scenario, believing that I’m not good enough to be forgiven by God – Him, with His everlasting Mercy. Even after I have said I was sorry.
This is where grace comes in.
If you are gracious to yourself, that means you are able to forgive yourself – and you can only do that with God’s help. So next time you feel like you want to shut yourself off from the world, invite Jesus into your heart and He will give you the grace you need to forgive yourself.
“Hail Mary, full of grace…” I’m sure most of you are familiar with the beautiful Hail Mary, a prayer to Our Lady Mother of God. In that very first line, it is made clear that Mary is ‘full of grace’ – grace that came from God. It means that she was humble, and that she was gracious to everyone and herself. Pray to her that she may help you to give others and yourself grace. Pray that you may be just like her, and that she will bring you closer to her Son, Jesus Christ.
Giving yourself grace means accepting the fact that you’re human – and that you will make mistakes. Everyone makes mistakes, even the ‘very good and Catholic people’ and the saints make them. Let yourself forgive yourself, allow yourself enough grace to help you learn from your mistakes, not beat yourself up or lower your self-worth from them. Be sorry for your sins, then pray to God that He will help you do better next time.
‘”Now that our Lord is helping me with his usual generosity, I will try to correspond by bettering my ways.” So you told me. And I have nothing to add.’ (The Way, 313.)
So next time you make a mistake, i.e.. getting bad marks, embarrassing yourself, do or saying something inappropriate, take your sin (if it was a sin, i.e. embarrassing yourself isn’t usually a sin!) to confession and ask for God’s forgiveness. After that, although you understand that you can’t forget about it completely and appear nonchalant to your old and harmful exploits, you do have to forgive yourself. Keep in mind that Satan will attack you where you are weak (because that’s what he does) so be on the lookout for him. If you find yourself judging too harshly, beware that it is Satan.
Don’t be Judas. Don’t think God will never forgive you. Just because some people might not be as forgiving as God (face it-everyone’s human) that doesn’t mean you should continue skulking until they do. Pick yourself up, say sorry, forgive yourself and anyone who may have harmed you, and continue your life. No matter how big a sin is, even if you blew up the solar system and everything on it, God will forgive you. That’s a promise. A promise made by Jesus Christ.