How do you forgive yourself?

There have been a lot of things in my life that I regret. There have been a lot of times that I’ve ignored God and made my own judgments for my life and I’d say I’ve paid for that.
I’ve been married and divorced (to a non-believer), have gone through times of having flings (playing the harlot), I was a smoker for nine years and still have trouble with wanting to smoke, I’ve had times in my youth where I would steal just for the fun of it.. I’ve done a lot and still God protected me from completely corrupting myself and falling away.
I’ve asked forgiveness for these things over and over through tremendous guilt and regret but I’ve never been able to forgive myself. It always starts with remembering, feeling the shame from what I’ve done in my past, asking forgiveness again and hoping that will be the end of it. It never is. Not only do we need to ask the Lord to forgive us with a repenting heart but we need to learn to forgive ourselves as well. Do I think I’ll do those things again in my lifetime? No, I don’t think I ever could. It would be more damaging to me than to whoever else might be affected.

Tonight as I was driving home, I was remembering some of the things I’ve always cringed at to think about regarding my past. I hate remembering them. I hate realizing what I had done and what kind if person I was at that time. I realized that I need to start forgiving myself, just as God has forgiven me.
At first I almost started telling myself it was stupid to talk to myself, saying, “Lindsey, I forgive you” but I did it anyway. I made it through a short list of the usual suspects that bother me, and I can’t quite tell if it helped yet. It’s a start and at least I tried something. How else are you supposed to forgive yourself and let things go? I’m not the type that easily gets over certain things and just lets it all go, like I don’t have a care in the world. I’m the type to bury it, hold onto it out of fear, while trying to ignore it at the same time.
I’m praying that will help me even if just a little. I need to start working on cleaning out this baggage from my life and God is the only one that can help me with it.

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