I’ve heard it said that every saint has a past and every sinner has a future. That’s our human condition. We all have moments from our past that we are proud of and then there are the things we wouldn’t want anyone else to know. There are parts of ourselves we’d like to hide away or forget. For some of us, the past is a burden. We carry it like a dead weight with us.
I remember a friend telling me once how she was given an assignment by a therapist to carry around a bowling ball for a week. It was heavy and cumbersome, a reminder for her of how she had to decide how much of the past to carry with her, like the weight of a heavy object that always slowed her down. We know that sometimes the hardest person to forgive is ourselves. We can give grace and forgiveness more easily to others than let go of a past regret, a mistake or more on from shame and embarrassment. Yet God does not want us to have to carry such loads for the rest of our lives.
Forgiving ourselves can mean deliberately giving to God our mistakes and failures, our pain about the past. It can mean an honest and frank admission of what we’ve done wrong and a reassessment of how we would keep embarrassing behavior from happening again. One of the blessings of our faith is the chance to start over, to have a new life in Christ that makes it possible for us to start again. Sunday we worship the God of new life, who offers to us all a chance to move forward, to not let the past define our future.