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Seek Forgiveness

Now, we’ve mentioned in other place about the importance of confessing to one another for healing. But we also need to confess to one another for forgiveness. It is important to seek not only God’s forgiveness, but also the forgiveness of those hurt by our addictions, and that we learn to forgive ourselves for our shortcomings.

Understand that forgiveness has little to do with the forgiven, and everything to do with the forgiver. Being forgiven does not discount the sin that was committed, but rather it removes the bondage and the debt that the sin brought upon the sinner. This will bring healing to you and those you love by restoring your relationships. It is part of your freedom, and it will help to guard your freedom well into the future.

By this point, I hope you’ve discovered some of the dependencies in your life, however big or small they may seem, and that you are at least partially aware of the sinfulness of your addictions. “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.” (Romans 3:23-24) That’s nothing to be ashamed of, since there is “no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus,” (Romans 8:1) but it is important to recognize your sin, so that you are able to confess it and turn from it in repentance.

Be honest with God about what’s going on. He knows the truth, but He wants to hear it from you. He wants you to know the truth. Confess to Him. He will be faithful and just to forgive you (1 John 1:9). And not only will He forgive, but He will forget, and He will separate you from your sin as far as the east is from the west (Psalm 103:12). When you are forgiven, God doesn’t look at you anymore through your sin, for it is no longer there, but He sees you with the heart of a loving father. He looks beyond your mistakes and sees you as you really are—His beloved son or daughter, His perfect creation, His own. There is nothing that can separate you from that (Romans 8:39).

God is not the only one, though, from whom you need forgiveness. There’s a good chance that your addictions have hurt people along the way, whether by your absence or your attitude, violence, unfaithfulness, poor stewardship, emotional instability, or whatever else has come as a product of your dependencies. So long as there is unforgiveness between you and the people you have hurt along the way, the devil has a foothold to bring shame and guilt and separation into your life, which can put you right back in the midst of an addiction you once were free from.

Sure, it may take time for people to trust you again. It may take time to rebuild relationships. It may take a miracle from God to bring healing to others for the hurt they’ve experienced. But know that God wants to heal them as much as He wants to heal you, and your humble repentance may be just what they need to release the fear and bitterness and hurt in their own hearts.
 
Please, please, please, don’t let pride keep you from saying you’re sorry. We know it’s not easy, but without this step, the rest of the journey can be much more difficult, and oftentimes impossible. Even if someone doesn’t forgive you, or if you are physically unable to ask their forgiveness (such as with someone who has passed away), you’re repentance will bring a change in your heart that will strengthen you against further attack, and will bring deeper healing to your life.
 
And the last person you need to ask forgiveness of is yourself. Believe it or not, you may be the person you hurt the most from your addiction. Perhaps that’s because you’ve lost the better years of your life to destructive patterns, or perhaps you’ve weakened or hurt yourself in some way physically from your addiction. Perhaps you hurt relationships that were important to you, or perhaps your addiction has ruined you financially.
 
I (Matthew) have wrestled with a lot of failure issues in my life, and as I have processed through the pain, I've realized that I’m usually the only one who has been disappointed in me. My own expectations were the only ones that hadn’t been met. Perhaps you’ve heard the phrase, “we are our own worst critics.” It’s true. We all feel that we’re the worst of sinners, and God forbid that anyone, including ourselves, should find out who we really are. But that’s because we know all of our own faults, and we know how often we screw up. But we don’t know those of anyone else (even as much as we try to point them out), and if we did, I’m pretty sure we’d find a lot in common.
 
So sure, you’ve let yourself down, and now you feel that somehow you’re less of a person for it. But God doesn’t see things that way. He says that His strength is made perfect in your weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9), and so even when you fail, God’s strength is at work in you, bringing you to perfection.

Take a moment to explore your feelings toward yourself. Do you love yourself the way you are? Do you feel ashamed? Do you feel you’ve let yourself down? Do you feel angry at yourself? Do you feel dirty or that you’ve violated yourself in some way?

You need to let it go. Holding onto it will give the devil a foothold in your life that will keep you in bondage to an addiction, to loneliness, to depression, or shame. What’s done is done, and all you have left is to move ahead and start living your life to the fullest. The Apostle Paul said, “but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 3:13-14)
 
Unforgiveness is one of the greatest roadblocks on the journey to freedom. When you can’t forgive yourself, you hold a self-image that says you’re not even worthy to take another step down this path. You’ve been at this roadblock for too long. Now it’s time to forgive yourself and move on.
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