I get this question a lot: How do I accept God’s forgiveness and live as a forgiven person?
Here is an eleven-step path. They aren’t eleven sequential steps. No two people are the same. We all come to the journey with different histories. Some of the steps will be easy and others will be difficult. Some won’t be as important and others will be essential. Some will have already been taken. Others seem miles away.
- Confess your sins. Become self-aware. Be thorough. Write it down, if necessary. Don’t blame others. The goal is not to beat yourself up. The goal is to be more fully aware of who you are, who God is, and who you can become.
- Ask for forgiveness from people you have hurt along the way. Take full responsibility. The other person may or may not forgive you. That is up to them. Your part is to ask. This will produce empathy and compassion for people you have hurt. Those are good things.
- Guilt has a positive function. Don’t be discouraged if it doesn’t go away entirely. Guilt is a reminder of pain we’ve caused others and ourselves. Guilt prevents us from doing it again.
- Don’t take the journey alone. Invite a few others to be your traveling companions. Listen to their words of approval. Know you are not alone.
- Dream about who you can become. Ask the question: What would my life look like if I lived as a forgiven person? That is your destination.
- Embrace the journey. Accepting God’s forgiveness and forgiveness of self doesn’t happen in a day. It happens daily. Don’t get frustrated you are not at the destination. Focus on your next few steps and celebrate progress.
- Practice gratitude. You have lots to be thankful for, including your mistakes and failures. Think about how these experiences have made you stronger and better and helped you experience growth.
- Love yourself. You are more than your mistakes. You are more than your failures. God loves you. Forgiveness will not happen until you practice self-compassion and appropriate love of self.
- Keep on praying. Jesus tells us to keep on asking, seeking, and knocking. Praying is about discovering God’s will. It is God’s will you live as forgiven and forgiving.
- Engage God’s words daily. You will regularly encounter a loving and forgiving God.
- Keep forgiving yourself. Forgiveness is not a single transaction. It’s a journey. A difficult one, but one worth taking.