The need for self-forgiveness and the self-acceptance that follows is often more powerful than the need to forgive others. However, it often slips under the radar of our self-awareness. The basis for this book is that in order to truly love others, I must be able and willing to love myself. Self-forgiveness is similar. If I want to forgive others, then I must be able and willing to forgive myself. Jesus said, “Love others as well [in the same manner] as you love yourself” (Mark 12:31 MSG). If I don’t love myself, but rather am hard on myself, it’s like rewording what Jesus said to read, “Be as hard on others as you are on yourself.” Or, “Hate others as you hate yourself.” Or, “Show no grace to others as you show no grace to yourself.”
It is amazing how hard people are on themselves. Often we will ask a client, “If you felt hatred or loathing for another person, would that be a problem for you?” Usually the answer is, “Of course. I would feel bad about it, and I would work on forgiving that person and dealing with any resentment I felt toward them.” Our next question is, “Why do you treat yourself any differently? Does God view your hatred toward others as unacceptable but your self-contempt as acceptable?”
You might be thinking, “Okay, I get the point.” But somehow we really don’t get it. How we see and feel about ourselves is much more than an emotional issue—it is a spiritual one. And it will interfere with our ability to love God and live in freedom.