How to Forgive Yourself When Life Doesn't Go As Planned

Forgiveness is a touchy topic, and tough to put your finger on.

How do you know when you've truly forgiven someone, especially when the one you need to forgive is yourself?

And, that cliche saying, "forgive and forget" isn't helpful because it provides no solace. It also makes it seem like the ability to forgive and forget, is easy, and it's not!

If you've ever tried and tried again, to forgive someone, you know what I mean.

Just when you think you're good, --boom, something triggers you. A song, a picture, a guy who resembles "the guy," the laughter of a child, the most random thing, reminds you that you're not quite over it.

You still have some work to do to fully forgive, and it's okay. 

Forgiveness is about pardoning yourself or another from an offense, debt or obligation. Just so we're clear: You have the power to pardon (absolve or release) another or yourself.

In 2015, days after a major milestone in my life, I realized that I still had some residual work to do with forgiving myself. I was excited to hold a Masters of Divinity, but while sitting in my home office, thinking over the accomplishment and over the course of my life... 

I was hit with the reality that my life did not go as planned.

A big part of me was like, yesss! --you did it, you graduated. But, this other part of me was like, no! --I didn't ask for this? It wasn't apart of the original plan, for my life.

After I sat, for what felt like hours, teary eyed, I was reminded of two things:

One: how hard it was for me to accept God's call to attend seminary, but in hindsight, it was one of the best choices of my life, and two: I must forgive myself for the things that did not go as planned, and may never be in my lifetime.

Are you trying to understand where your life is headed? Why things that you've been seeking haven't manifested yet? 

There's no easy way to say it, it hurts when your plan doesn't work out, or the vision has yet to come to pass, or like in my case, your plan is exchanged for God's plan.

I'll warn you: In each of the above scenarios, grief (or depression) is possible because a plan, vision or desire that has yet to be actualized can drain you emotionally, and has the potential to make you physically sick. 

"Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life." -Proverbs 13:12 NIV

There's a great article on WebMD titled, Learning to Forgive Yourself by Jean Lawrence. She states, "Many people get stuck for years on what didn't go as planned."

God doesn't want any of us to get stuck A DAY, never mind years, on anything that's not for us. He doesn't want us wasting time mourning or mulling over plans that haven't worked out, especially plans that lack divine authority and instruction. 

In order to build up a "keep it moving" mindset, in his disciples, Jesus offered them this wisdom:

"And whosoever shall not receive you, nor hear your words, when ye depart out of that house or city, shake off the dust of your feet.-Matthew 10:14 KJV

Jesus knew that everyone wouldn't welcome or receive the words of the disciples, and he didn't want any of them to get stuck on, or mulling over why not? He basically was telling them, "don't take it personal, it's purposeful." 

Here's how you can begin to forgive yourself when life doesn't go as planned:

1. Receive this, it's not personal, it's purposeful. 

I was angry when the plans I worked so hard for failed. Like, why??? I wanted what I wanted, when I wanted it, and I didn't think I was asking for too much. Can you relate? But, what I had to realize is divine intervention and providence was working behind the scenes in my life.

It's humbling when you exhaust all possibilities, and do everything in your strength, and things still don't work out, or don't flow right. 

Know this: The dismantling of your plan, may have less to do with your competence and more to do with God's providence. 

2. Be open-minded to God blowing your mind.

In Isaiah 55:9, God let's us know that His ways and thoughts are higher than our ways and thoughts. Therefore, we can pretty much expect for His plans to be much higher than our plans (for ourselves).

Give yourself grace for not being able to recognize the bigger plans for your life.

As you continue to develop your relationship with God, I encourage you to brace yourself for unexpected shifts in whatever you have planned, or at least in how you think it will come to pass. Let God blow your mind. 

3. Get this, you still have time.

Forgive yourself, to free your mind to explore what's new and what's next.

I don't know how old you are, but you still have time, and God wants you to grasp this truth. How do I know? Because you were set up to read this blog. But, before you can perceive the new thing (Isaiah 43:19), you have to let go of the old vision--of whatever you pictured was supposed to happen in your life.

It's going to be different than you thought, make peace with it. In the meantime, pray, asking God to help you PERCEIVE what's new for your life, and for the courage to see it through to the new, new. 

Did this topic on self-forgiveness resonate with you? Do you plan to do anything differently because of what you read? If so, we'd love to know what, comment below.  

Much Love, 

Tiffany Wilson, M.Div aka @tiffytalks

Are you interested in working with Coach Tiffany? Do you need to resolve something in your past that's keeping you from enjoying the present? Click here to set up a 1-on-1 Coaching Consultation.

[Published via Original Website July 11, 2015. Edited, September 6, 2018] 

1 comment

  • Tona

    Everyday I am realizing His plans and ways are bigger than mine. I am just going to trust that He knows what is best and enjoy the journey! Thanks for the encouraging post.

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