Anger at Self
Since the Early 20th Century, there has been a theory of personality that claims we do bad things because we are angry at ourselves; however, in reality we are really good people. If only our environment, like our family or socioeconomic background, had been perfect. Then we would have made all the right choices in our lives and we would like ourselves. If we liked ourselves, we would always treat others nicely and do the right thing.
Nice fairy tale, but not reality.
According to our Maker, we are not good people spoiled by our parents and our “luck.” We are people made in the image of God, who can use even a perfect childhood and background to sin with. We aren’t angry at ourselves; we are angry at those who get in our way. We justify our anger by telling ourselves that we are just victims of our anger at ourselves.
One of the most ridiculous statements I hear as a counselor is “I can’t forgive myself. I know God forgives me, but I can’t seem to forgive myself.”
This statement, aside from being ridiculous, is really arrogant. It doesn’t make the person a victim of his high social standards. Instead, it shows that although he acknowledges God’s forgiveness of him, he lacks the insight to see that he is holding his own opinion of who is guilty and who is not over God’s Sovereignty. He fails to see that God’s grace should be enough. If God forgives him, he should let it go.
So what would make a person hold onto his anger? There are several reasons:
First, a person could feel secure knowing that they are in control of the anger, and in turn, being the one who holds the key to letting go of the anger. Second the person could like to be angry because it provides a smokescreen for other emotions. Third, if I am a victim, I don’t see myself as a perpetrator. Nice!
While this person is not forgiving themselves, they are stuck in the situation, they are not moving on. This savored anger can keep a person from reaching out to others, which, is what God calls us to be doing. It also denies God’s rightful call on that person. By not accepting God’s forgiveness they are setting themselves up to be their own God. The ultimate idol worship.
The next time someone says, “I just can’t forgive myself,” remember they are not sinning against themselves, they are sinning against God. They cannot forgive that one, only God can.