Last Thursday, along with four other authors from the Faith and Culture Writers Connection, I had the chance to speak to inmates in the Oregon State Penitentiary.

I encouraged the men to forgive themselves—as each of us needs to—for events in the past.  Here are a couple of highlights.

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Golden Gate Bridge Death to the Stock Photo

God sees us not in terms of our past, but who we’re becoming. Let’s say you board a train in Memphis, bound for San Francisco. As you step on board, trolley cars, salty bay air, cobblestone streets, and the Golden Gate Bridge fill your mind. Maybe you haven’t left Memphis yet, but God sees you like you’ve arrived. God sees forward.

Our past tells us where we were. But God sees us in terms of who we are. Where we’ve been doesn’t define us any more than a baseball bat in a rowboat makes it an oar or a fly swatter in a kitchen makes it a spatula (unless maybe you’re baking a fly pie).

God pours out His Spirit on who we’re becoming. He wants us to reframe our past. And in the reframe, maybe He says, “It’s time to forgive yourself.”

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Dog Chase Tail (cropped)

Self-criticism gets you nipping at your own tail. Round and round you go, until you’ve spun yourself into a thick blur. Grace whistles for you, grabs you by the paws, and holds you to its chest.

So, hey, good news about the Holy Spirit, our Comforter and Counselor. He’s the one who whistles for you. He’s the one holding you to His chest. In Him we find acceptance and peace.

You’re empowered to rise up in compassion and courage, boldly telling of His incredible unconditional love. Who has Christ declared us to be? New creations. Once we’ve been forgiven, redeemed and reconciled to our Father through the precious blood of Jesus, we were made a new creation. That’s where we’re going. That’s who we are.

Friend, in the spirit realm, where are you going? Who are you becoming?