Forgiveness is Actually the Best Form of Self-Love

Love thy neighbor as yourself” only works if you actually love yourself first.
— Kelly Rodgers

Forgiveness is often talked about in most churches around the world. The concept of letting go of something that has held you back because you continue to dwell upon it, instead of holding grudges toward someone or something that causes you to be lesser of a vessel ready to receive whatever it is that you are meant to in this life, without doubts.

Learning this concept has been a basic Sunday school principle for many of us, but it is not something that is as easy to do as it is to learn. Learning the concept is as learning that one and one is two, but putting it into practice can be an entirely different story. The reason that it is most difficult for some, is the inability to pause and think about how they truly think about themselves.

Learning this concept in the last year, has helped me to come across the concept that I need to flip the golden rule and “love myself as I love my neighbor.” This is not an ego trip, and it was not something that was easy for me to grasp or do, but it is something that I have been working on and it has led me to love others, that I loved a lot before, even more and also helped me to realize that a lot of my roots built in hostility and unforgiveness are actually planted in how I felt about myself.

Reflecting upon moments in my life and my story that still sting to me or cause me to choke up when discussing has made this part of my journey different when I decided to dig in deeper and ask “why”. Why am I really mad at that person still? It happened several years ago- yet holding this grudge towards them only slows me down in feeling that I am able to follow the wise words of What Would Jesus Do? Honestly, that’s all I have decided to do in life is to try to live like Him in hopes that one day I will be able to hold His hand and thank Him for setting such an amazing example.

Back to what happens to when I ask myself “why” in regards to continuing to hold onto something that I would be better off letting go of- in reflection, I am still hurt. Or the past me is still hurt, anyways. But I have learned that I need to take even a further step back and look at myself now in comparison to the person I was in the situation in which I am still holding resentment.

I have changed a lot from that moment of hurting to what I have become, even if it was only a day later. The first key to forgiving others is that I have learned that I am completely different than the moment that I was affected, even if it is as simple as “I have been able to sleep since yadi-yada happened, therefore I am able to come into this with a different perspective on my day” or “I have read His truths about who I am in my identity through Him, so why do I believe that person and the negativity that they have fed the lie I am believing about myself?” Realizing this and then coming at this in an attitude of prayer has helped me actually focus on how I can continue to get passed this moment.

The thing that strikes the chord with me, most times, is that I have to find a way to let this go, not because it is mainly beneficial to the other person but because it is one of the most radical ways to show self-love. Deciding that I love myself enough to find a way to let my heart release hostility. In quiet time, I have learned that those who hurt me most have just spoken to a lie that I already believe of myself to be true. The reason it hurts so much is because they have given my brain validation in “oh, see? You were right to feel that way about yourself.” But why am I allowing myself to let a label stick to me that is not how my creator has defined me or created me for His purpose?

Once I have been able to reflect on who I am in His name and for the reasons that He decided that I was worth it to include in His plan and on His planet (and literally die for), I am able to more easily realize that what that person has said or done to me is only trying to get me to feel like the lesser human that I had already been telling myself at some point in my life that I was. Deciding to throw things at this negativity that Christ says that I am in His spirit has helped me step back from a different point in my heart and realize that the first step in letting go the grudge toward someone is to place emphasis on the truth in which He holds for me, versus the one that I have led myself to believe.

So, please, in an act of self love and reflection, look at what is causing you to continue to hold on to it. Whether it be a lie that you have had sitting in your head all along, or it being one that has been formed since the incident, learn that you are more than enough through your Father’s eyes and welcome the idea of speaking His truth over what is really hurting you.

Love yourself, first. Then it will be second nature to love your neighbor.

By Kelly Rodgers

Three to Abandon Mentor & Past Participant