Have you ever struggled with self-judgement, self-condemnation, or self-hatred? Me too. This daily devotional addresses the guilt and shame we often experience about the past.
The format of this devotional for women is “self-examination” so I’ll be sharing my personal story of how I went from living in a vicious cycle of self-condemnation, guilt, and shame to accepting the gift of forgiveness from Jesus Christ. The reason why I chose the self-examination format for my devotionals is because whenever people share with me how I should think, I feel preached to, but whenever people share about their faith journey, their own internal struggle, their heartbreaks and breakthroughs, I feel touched by their story, encouraged, and empowered.The power of vulnerability is huge, so I trust that sharing my struggles with guilt and shame, as well as presenting my spiritual breakthroughs in this Biblical devotional will encourage and empower YOU.
Daily Devotional for Women: “I am forgiven”
I remember hating myself so much that I even told my friend Don one day in our phone conversation: “I want to take a vacation from ME but anywhere I go I follow…”
Kind of ironic but so true.
When we’re trapped in the vicious cycle of self-condemnation, life might seem hopeless. We feel like there’s no escape. We don’t measure up to the expectations of our ego. That’s exactly how I felt.
At the time, I didn’t know Jesus personally. I hated myself, my decision-making, my choices, my past and present, and I didn’t know how to make my future different and break free from shame, guilt, and self-loathing.
I didn’t know how to forgive myself.
Feeling guilt and shame
For as long as I remember myself, I felt guilty. My mother taught me that I was guilty for being born because she didn’t want me. She blamed me not just for being born but also for being born a girl, so she dressed me up as a boy and called me a boy’s name when I was a child. She convinced me that I was guilty for my father’s absence in her life. She assured me that I was guilty for her lack of professional career and working as a janitor. She persuaded me that I was guilty for her suicidal thoughts and poor mental and physical health.
Overall, I must admit: there isn’t a time I remember when something bad in my mother’s life was not my fault.
Copying with guilt and shame in the natural
Growing up with a sense of strong shame, supervised by a caregiver who was abusive and mentally unstable, I developed primary feelings of anger and rage.
I was a rebellious child.
Comfort was offered to me very early on in a form of alcohol, cigarettes, pornography, and sex.
I also discovered emotional relief later on in compulsive international travel, obsessive shopping, and all-night clubbing.
[clubbing pictures of me]
I slept around, drank myself to the point of unconsciousness, smoked whatever was available, and danced a night away so that I didn’t have to feel the emotional pain of my traumatic childhood experiences.
When I look back, I see almost an unconscious young woman wandering around in life, looking for the light at the end of the tunnel.
I found the light: Jesus Christ.
Becoming pure and holy (justification)
In 2008, I graduated with high honors from a business school and a law school and I left Russia. In 2011, I started attending Buckhead Church here in Atlanta, GA.
The experience of going to church was so new, hearing about Jesus was so shocking, I almost had a hard time relating our modern world to the teachings of the Bible. I couldn’t comprehend it.
God works in mysterious ways.
In 2012, while attending an MBA Program at Georgia State University in Buckhead, I signed up for an entrepreneurship class. At the end of that year, we had to decide on the internship company, only I didn’t like the companies offered.
One morning, our professor sent out an email that changed my life forever.
As opposed to all other emails where he provided a list of multiple companies, this email contained only one. And I loved it!
It was a social business in need of digital marketing help. Perfect for me! I applied and got the opportunity.
In early 2013, I began my internship. The first meeting was mind-blowing for me.
In the beautiful King and Queen in Dunwoody, in a modern conference room, with modern furniture, equipment, and people, the business meeting began with… a prayer discussion.
I was… um… puzzled. I was puzzled.
The CEO was a skinny, blond, drop-dead-gorgeous, high-heals-wearing, modern entrepreneurial woman. Yet, she started telling me how God told her what to name her business… and that it was a regular occurrence (I mean talking to God!)
I had such a mix of feelings and thoughts. This was all too crazy for me. I had never heard or seen people like this. I surely wasn’t exposed to God-hearing people. And the idea of relying on God for naming your business was beyond comprehension for me.
I wanted to quit the internship but it was too late in the semester and the company had already paid $1000 to the GSU for me to help them. I was stuck.
I felt trapped in a crazy environment of people who talked to someone they couldn’t see and believed that they heard back.
In the meantime, our professor required regular digital journaling. It meant that I had to write about my experiences and email all that to him every day. And I did.
I wrote how hard the whole God thing was to comprehend and that the only way I saw myself being able to manage the internship was to “empty my cup” and take everything the people at that company said about God as if it were true.
And so I did. My professor responded to my journal entry saying: “Among all your classmates, you’ll get the most out of this internship.”
I didn’t know how and I was wondering if my professor was the same “crazy,” too. But I went along with the whole situation because I hat no other choice.
My colleagues there taught me how to pray. They shared with me how to hear from God. They invited me to come to church with an open heart. And so I signed up for the Starting Point at Buckhead Church where I asked lots of questions.
The blond, beautiful, and modern CEO of that company helped me breach the gap between the Jesus-time and the 21st century. Witnessing not just her faith but faithfulness made my faith and faithfulness possible after all.
My professor was right: I did get the most valuable gig. The internship changed my eternity. Here’s my baptism video.
I passed the entrepreneurship class with an “A” and I graduated with my MBA that same year with a 3.64 GPA.
After that experience, I continued my journey of spiritual growth and healing. I was still drinking heavily and sleeping around in 2013 but the seed of faith and hope was planted in my heart.
One night in 2014, I fell on my knees and wept from guilt and shame about my past and present, who I had become, and what I had done with my poor choices.
1 John 1:19 says this:“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”
I confessed my sins and asked Jesus to come into my heart, rid me of myself, take over, and make me new.
[timeline widget here: 1983, 2008, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014]
Ephesians 1:7 says this:“In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace.”
God’s grace liberated me from my past and made me new in my consciousness. I accepted Jesus as my lord and savior. I understood my justification. The blood of Jesus washed me white as snow.
If you’re reading this thinking that your sin might be bigger than my sin, then not for the purpose of competition but simple awareness, I want to share with you just some of my sins.
My Sins That Jesus Washed Away
- Anger and rage
- Suicide attempts
- Sexual addiction
From guilty and sinful, the sacrifice of Jesus took me to being viewed as holy and pure. God looks at His children through the blood of Jesus. He sees purity.
You see, no matter my sin, I am pure because of Christ. God forgives me not because of anything I had done to earn His grace but because of what Jesus had done to earn grace for me.
Becoming Christ-like (sanctification)
After that night, I was new. I had the Holy Spirit in me. I had God’s truth dwelling in me. But also, I woke up in my well-known body, with my well-known habits, experiencing my well-known temptations. I was still physically living in the fallen world ruled by flesh.
I learned that after justification, which was an event of accepting Jesus, I had a lifetime of sanctification ahead of me, which is a process ought to help me develop Christ-like character qualities.
And the battle between the flesh and the Spirit had began.
I was aware and awake, no longer dead in my consciousness or spirit. But I didn’t have any good habits. My habits, my lifestyle, my temptations were all self-destructive and damaging.
The battle was painful and exhausting. And it continues of course. If I were perfect already, I’d be in my eternity, meaning I would not be writing this devotional for you because I’d be dead physically having entered into the phase of glorification.
Living a guilt-free life and glorifying God (glorification).
I know that when I die and go to be with Jesus in eternity, God’s glorification will take place upon Christ’s return.
I know also that the purpose of my life here and now is to glorify God by doing the good work He prepared in advance for me to do, such as this ministry, for example.
Doing the work for God is hard. Writing these daily devotionals is painful. Putting myself out there on the podcast in such a vulnerable manner is scary. It’s a battle of flesh and Spirit.
In my flesh, I want to binge-watch Netflix comedies. Yet, in my spirit, I have a calling from God to produce genuine content and share it with women who need it through my ministry.
[subscribe to my podcast ]
As I’m fighting the battle, I’m growing spiritually. I’m aware of the choices I must make because I’m brand-new in my consciousness. I’ve been made new by the Spirit of God when I invited Jesus into my heart. He forgave me, rid me of my sin, justified me, and now I’m on a journey of becoming like Him.
This journey of sanctification is filled with trials and tribulations.
[my testimony video]
My character is same old when I try to do life in my own power. But when I focus on Jesus, the Fruit of the Spirit shows up in my character.
I fail often but the difference is that I carry no guilt and no shame.
The reward of this journey is that I don’t need a vacation from myself anymore. I got to know myself and have learned to enjoy my own company.
Living a shameless life and giving God the glory
Here’s what I’ve learned from my experience of accepting God’s grace, being His child, becoming more like Christ yet still living in the world of sin and flesh.
We must confess our sins, accept for, and repent.
I remember falling on my knees and confessing my wrongdoing Les to God, asking for forgiveness yet knowing that on my own I wouldn’t be able to repent.
So I asked Jesus to come into my heart and take over. And He did.
Through Jesus, I was able to develop a new identity as a daughter of God, the king of universe, and slowly I learned to reach out for His grace every moment.
[Lord, I need you video prayer here]
Remembering that Jesus bled and died on the cross to pay for all my debts, mistakes, offenses, I was able to realize: God forgave me because of Jesus. How can I not forgive myself? Am I above God? No. So, I accepted His forgiveness and forgave myself.
It released me from the vicious cycle of self-condemnation. When I fail, I confess my sins, reach for God’s grace, forgive myself, and move on.
This liberates me from confusion and doubt and I’m able to take action to do what God called me to do – this ministry for Christian women.
If I were not to wholeheartedly accept God’s forgiveness and grace, I would have never built and launched Online Discipleship for Women. I would have disregarded God’s calling to ministry because I would have still carried around the heavy load of guilt and shame.
Had I not accepted God’s forgiveness and forgave myself, I would have not been able to do the good work God prepared in advance for me to do. I would have not been able to glorify God with my work.You are forgiven
You are forgiven. You’ve been set free. You are brand-new. You got a new identity once you accepted Jesus as your Lord and Savior. You are free from sin. You are God’s heir. His special daughter. A Princess!
Do you believe?
Ask yourself these three questions:
1. Do I believe that Jesus sacrificed His life so I can have mine?
2. Do I believe that the blood of Jesus washed my sins as white as snow?
3. Do I believe that I am forgiven and purified from unrighteousness?
If you said yes, memorize the Biblical affirmation below and practice it often to remember that you are forgiven.
I am forgiven
I’m forgiven by my Father,Cleansed from my unrighteousness.I am pure and I am holy,Brand-new in my consciousness.
How does it make you feel to know that you are forgiven by God and made pure? Share with me in the comments below so I can rejoice with you.
If this devotional was helpful, download all #52Devotionals now.
Dear #TruePrincesses! I’m Anna Szabo, the founder of Online Discipleship For Women.
On this Christian blog for women, I write about the six pillars of joyful living: Faith, Food, Fitness, Finances, Felicity, and Fortitude.
Please post your comments and questions for me. Your opinions, thoughts, life stories, and experiences matter. Why? Because every story is for God’s glory. I share with you my life experiences and believe that God has each of us on a very special journey. He wants to uniquely equip and qualify us for special ministry in His kingdom. The purpose of adversity is for us to persevere, grow in faith, and share hope with others. So, share freely here!
May this ministry be a blessing to you!