Forgiven and Free: Living in the Freedom of Grace
By Christa Cottam
“As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us.” Psalm 103:2
There was no way I was going to forgive her. She didn’t deserve forgiveness—she deserved to pay for what she’d done.
The thing is, “she” was me, and that’s exactly how I felt for years. I had no problem forgiving others, just myself.
Scripture tells us, in Christ, God has removed all our sins. But I chose to believe that didn’t apply to me—that I needed to serve a sentence of shame before I could be exonerated from my guilt. Further, I was certain my sins not only rendered me unworthy to receive God’s forgiveness but also His love.
Have you found that often the most difficult person to forgive is yourself? That was definitely the case for me, until God literally spoke into my situation.
I attended a worship service where I heard the story of a man’s miraculous healing. What struck me, though, wasn’t his physical healing, but the freedom he experienced from feelings of unworthiness.
Following the man's testimony, a pastor invited anyone who felt burdened by unworthiness to stand and receive prayer. Despite the pride that begged me to remain seated, I rose. And in the silent moments that followed the prayer, God spoke to me for the first time.
He said, Christa, I love you. I forgave you a long time ago, and you need to forgive yourself.
I was literally undone. Instantly freed from the tremendous weight of shame that would have eventually crushed me. I was overcome—with love.
Until that moment, I didn’t realize how much I’d allowed unforgiveness to affect my life and relationships. I’d trusted in Christ for salvation but held God’s grace at arm’s length, refusing to accept it. Unintentionally, I was saying Christ’s death was enough to vindicate others, but not me.
Released from that burden, I was able to move forward, to truly love myself, others, and God, and finally experience the freedom for which Christ died to give me.
It’s not as though forgiveness erased the memory of my shameful sins, but it did eradicate the oppressive power they had over me. Before, they were scars I desperately tried to cover; now they’re scars I proudly point to and say, “Look what God has done in my life.”
Don’t allow unforgiveness to control you. Remember that God wants to do the same transformative work in you, turning your scars into a beautiful story of His love.
Christa Cottam is a spunky speaker and women’s ministry and worship leader with a fire in her belly to tell others about Jesus. Visit her online at WhollyLoved.com and find out more by reading her bio at the end of the book.
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Originally published Thursday, 01 June 2023.