Forgiving ourselves for the pain our sexual addiction has caused others is no easy task. We’ve hurt those we loved. We lied. We cheated. We stole. We violated our values. We broke marriages; ours and others. We lived double lives. Obviously these were not minor misgivings – doesn’t a harsh punishment seem more appropriate than forgiveness?! However, we are very good at being hard on ourselves and maybe it’s time we try a more gentle approach. Forgiving ourselves instead of continuing to punish ourselves is a vital part of the recovery process.
Unfortunately for most of us, practicing any sort of “self-care” is typically not one of our strengths. But if we are to achieve emotional, spiritual and relational health, at some point we’ll have to proactively go about the process of mending the self-inflicted wounds of our past and forgiving ourselves for the pain we have caused. Of course this begs the question, HOW??? There are steps we can take but please understand: It is not easy. There are no quick fixes. It takes time. It is also very doable and it is worth it!
Here are some suggestions to forgive yourself and therefore achieve lasting recovery from sexual addiction:
- We must commit to a sexual addiction recovery program. Is your recovery THE PRIORITY in your life? THE priority??
- We need to forgive others. Resentments are poison and the worst part is we are poisoning ourselves. We will never be in position to forgive ourselves if we don’t forgive others first. “Without forgiveness life is governed by an endless cycle of resentment and retaliation” – Roberto Assaglioli
- We need to make amends to right our past wrongs. For many, this is a scary step but you can get through it with the help of others. However, carrying around the shame of our past will never go away if we don’t make attempts to make things right with those we have harmed. My experience with making amends has been nothing but positive and life changing. Every time I make amends I grow closer to being the person God needs me to be. Quite honestly, that feels good!
- We need to help others recover from their sexual addiction. Face it, we were selfish in our addiction and when we have the opportunity to help others we need to jump at the chance. Best of all, once we’ve found some semblance of recovery we have someone to give to others – ourselves!
Forgiving ourselves is not easy but it is definitely worth the effort. As I learn to accept my forgiveness, the shame and pain of my past slowly dissipates and I start to reshape my self-perception. I see myself as worthy of God’s love and the love of others. I have less resentments. I choose love instead of anger or fear. In short, I find peace and that’s really the goal isn’t it? Peace be with you – may you find God now and find room in your heart to begin the journey of self-forgiveness.
“But with you there is forgiveness, so that we can, with reverence, serve you.” (Psalm 130:4 NIV).