Photo via Visual hunt

Forgive Yourself

Sometimes, we’re afraid to let go of the guilt.

When you get into stressful situations, you probably start to get a little irritated. Maybe you get angry. You might even snap! I haven’t always handled stress well. Sometimes I’ve been pretty bad at it.

Dealing with failure and conflict is part of being human.

In my baseball career, there was a lot of success. And there was a lot of failure! In fact, my success in baseball belonged in large part to my early failures. Failing early on taught me how to handle stress.

But even when I was succeeding, stress presented a challenge. One season, when I was wth the Giants, I lost my temper during a game in Toronto. When I came out of the game, I kicked some stuff, punched a water cooler, and kicked some chairs in the clubhouse. In other words, I did not handle the stress well. At all!

It was humbling! I had to talk to some of my teammates. I had to sit down with my manager. I had to tell them I was sorry, and that I knew I should have handled it better. We talked it out after the fact, and everything worked out. But it wasn’t easy.

Learning To Accept Failure

To humble yourself before athletes as an athlete, one who tries to carry himself with confidence (but not cockiness), is a real challenge. It’s a challenge in any situation to humble yourself and say, “I was wrong. That’s the truth, and I’m sorry.” A lot of guys can’t do that. But as Christian men, Godly men, that’s what we have to do.

You have to know that when you make a mistake, your first question should be, “How should I be like Jesus in this scenario? How can I share in the image of God?” You do it by apologizing, and asking for forgiveness from the people you affected.

I’ve learned to do that, and I’ve learned to do it well. I did it through awareness. I maintain awareness of my true self, as an image-bearer of God. And yet I remember that, in my flesh as a human being, I can fail.

You have to accept that failure is part of being human.

There is strength in that. Part of our strength as Christian men and women is recognizing that we are human. We are going to make mistakes, and we are going to have to apologize for them.

Learning to Forgive Yourself

And that’s the easy part, because you also have to forgive yourself. That’s a huge challenge. To forgive ourselves, we have to overcome fear. Yes, fear is the obstacle!

The fear goes something like this: “If I forgive myself for something I did, and then I let it go, then I’ll forget how bad it was and I’ll do it again.”

Sound familiar? We have a hard time forgiving ourselves. We think we need to live in the guilt. We think that as long as we live in the guilt, we won’t repeat our mistakes. It’s our way of saying, “As long as I can feel the sting, I won’t make that mistake again.”

Trust me, this is the hard way to do things. And it’s not what God wants.

Once you’ve been forgiven, it’s time to move on. You don’t need to live in the memory. You don’t need the sting to keep yourself on track. You’ve humbled yourself and asked for forgiveness. You’ve handled your mistakes directly and with humility. You’ve learned. You’ve become a better person. That’s growth. You can let it go!

The people around you forget about it, and that’s your affirmation. That’s Jesus, reflecting back to you!

So don’t hold onto that sting. Trust in that forgiveness.

You have no condemnation now, because of what Jesus did on the cross. You’ve been forgiven by the King of Kings! And if He can forgive you, then it’s okay. Forgive yourself.

I am the author of To Stir a Movement: Life, Justice, and Major League Baseball (2013), and my second book is in the works. Visit my Huffington Post page here. I blog here. Follow me on Instagram & Twitter: @JeremyAffeldt.