But sometimes, by purest grace, you are given the words you need to hear. Today, on Facebook, these words by John O'Donohue turned up in my feed:
"When personal guilt in relation to a past event becomes a continuous cloud over your life, then you are locked in a mental prison. You have become your own jailer. While you should not erase your responsibility for the past, when you make the past your jailer, you destroy your future. It is such a great moment of liberation when you learn to forgive yourself, let the burden go, and walk out into a new path of promise and possibility. Self-compassion is a wonderful gift to give yourself. You should never reduce the mystery and expanse of your presence to a haunted fixation with something you did or did not do. To learn the art of integrating your faults is to begin a journey of healing on which you will regain your poise and find new creativity. Your soul is more immense than any one moment or event in your past. When you allow guilt to fetter and reduce you like this, it has little to do with guilt. The guilt is only an uncomfortable but convenient excuse for your fear of growth." (emboldening mine)
This has hit me like a train. It has taken this to finally help me to recognise that I am *more* than my past behaviour, and that to carry on letting the guilt over that past behaviour define me, I have indeed put my soul into prison. And so I am worthy of forgiveness, worthy of love.
Now I can finally believe that I am worthy of love, that my past behaviour doesn't define my whole self. I can't believe it has taken so long for the penny to drop. But drop it has. Thank you God! And thank you, John O'Donohue.