Many years ago during a very difficult time in my life, I sought out the help of a counselor. I only had one session with him, so naturally we didn't cover a lot of ground, but he asked me the most profound question, one that haunted me for some time.
I was 19 when I married. I know now that I was in no way prepared for marriage, but at the time I was certain I was. I will not disparage him here, or anywhere. But, I am going to lay a little background from my viewpoint. I knew, even then that there were problems. But, in my young and romantic mind I was certain love fixed everything and all the problems would magically disappear in the presence of wedded bliss.
I am sure you have concluded that was not the outcome.
I was not only young, I was also relatively sheltered and not prepared to cope with some of the issues I faced. I can look back at home movies from those early years and will look into the face of the young woman I was, the defeat etched on my countenance, and my eyes fill with tears even now.
Forgiveness came to me for him. That part was relatively easy. It was forgetting and trusting I would continue to have issues with.
And, years later when I was a grown up woman, it was the memory of that broken little girl that colored my tolerance and made the decisions I knew I had to make so much more bittersweet.
After my session with the counselor, his one question played over and over like a broken record in my mind. I just could not move past it. I think the thing that struck me so much about it was it was not directed at the one who hurt me, it was not a question about why it happened or what would cause their behavior.
The question had nothing to do with them at all.
With one simple question he had hit on something I was not even aware was happening in me.
He asked, "Why are you so angry with yourself?"
Just typing those words made my eyes fill with tears.
My answer then was a softy spoken, "I didn't realize I was."
I left that session and went home, going thought the motions of being myself with those words ringing in my heart...
Days later I was cleaning the kitchen after supper, the question still playing over and over in my mind, "Why are you so angry with yourself?" when it suddenly hit me, and I hit my knees and wept.
I was angry with myself because I wasn't enough.
I wasn't enough.
I wasn't enough to fix someone else's brokenness, and in the process of trying I became broken myself.
One of the hardest processes I have ever had to go through was forgiving that little girl. And, forgiveness usually comes easy to my heart.
But, forgiving myself, well, that is very, very difficult.
Even after that pivotal moment of clarity I still continued to carry that dead little girl on my back with me everywhere I would go, and the stench from that dead thing in my life overpowered the fragrance of possibilities because, as I said, forgiveness is the easiest part, but trusting and forgetting are so very hard.
And since I neither had the power to forgive myself or trust myself again, it hindered me. And, I am not even touching on the forgetting. She haunted me, haunted my judgement, and hindered my progress with the weight of her I carried.
One night I was able to finally bury this girl that I was and forgive her for allowing herself to be in situations that were beyond her control. With that forgiveness came clarity to my decisions.
You see, because I wasn't enough, in my young mind, I accepted what was happening to me because I felt I deserved it. I was once told I could do no better than where I was, and that was easy to accept because I had already decided I was lacking.
Through forgiving myself I could reflect that it wasn't a burden I needed to carry anymore. And when hurt came again to my life, instead of thinking it no more than I deserved, I realized that I deserved better.
It is easy to remember that the Bible emplores us to forgive one another. It is rich with verses that deal with love and forgiveness. But, it is much harder to remember that you must first forgive yourself, at times.
I found it interesting reading some studies on forgiveness that the root word in the phrase "one another" in Colossians 3:13 includes you.
"Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye."
Did you know that when you have unforgiveness in your heart it is an open door to allow torment into your life? And, this includes unforgiveness toward yourself.
One of the hardest things I had to do in this process was to be completely honest with myself. Once I was able to honestly search my own heart and get to the root of the problem, forgiveness of myself and seeing myself in a whole new light became possible.
When I could forgive myself I would release myself and those that had hurt me from responsibility and finally move forward.
It may be time for you to stand in front of a mirror and look yourself in the eyes. Do you like the person staring back at you? What do you see? Self-hatred can be deeply imbedded, but once uncovered you can begin the process of moving it out of your heart.
I have thought so much about that young woman that I was. I have wept for the loss of her innocence, the disillusionment that she faced, the brokenness she went through. There are certain instances that to this day I cannot recall without tears filling my eyes and my heart filling my throat. But, I see those days differently now. And, I see myself differently, too.
Why are YOU so angry with yourself?
That is a good question.
If I could talk to my younger self there are certain things I would say.
I would say it wasn't your fault. You can't fix another person's brokenness, only God has that power. And, I would say the love you had to give, the hope you carried in your heart, they deserved so much more and it wasn't because they weren't powerful things that they didn't get more. It wasn't you as the giver of love that was at fault.
And, I would say one day you will have the chance again to love beyond measure. Remember this time, but do not let it stop you from loving. Because the day will come when your love may be the balm that soothes another, but it will never fix what is broken in them. Or in you. Only One can do that. And He will. If you let Him.