Have you ever struggled with self-judgment, self-condemnation, or self-hatred? Me too. This daily devotional for women “I Am Forgiven” addresses the guilt we often experience in life, as well as how to accept God’s forgiveness and live guilt-free.
The format of this devotional is “self-examination.” 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 God.
The reason why I chose the self-examination format for my devotionals is that whenever people tell me how I should think, I feel preached to, but whenever they share about their faith journey and breakthroughs, I feel touched by their story.
I trust that sharing my struggles with shame and presenting my spiritual breakthroughs in this Biblical devotional will encourage and empower you.
Daily Devotional for Women: “I Am Forgiven”
Shame was not something I chose. It was given to me as an inheritance by my mother when I was very little. In 2008, I emigrated across the ocean to liberate myself from all the shame I inherited during my life in Russia.
Surprisingly enough, shame followed me to America.
Shame doesn’t recognize age, distance, or anything else for that matter. I begged shame to give me a break, but anywhere I went, shame followed.
If you don’t know my story, here it is for you:
- My Narcissist Mother Story
- My Sex Addiction Story
- My Domestic Violence Story
- My Narcissist Relationship Abuse Story
- My Salvation Story and Testimony
- My Spiritual Warfare Story
- My Depression Story
- My Suicide Story
- My Identity Transformation Story
- My Story of Faith and Fortitude
I remember hating myself so much that I even told my friend 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.
This struggle is not new. It’s a human condition. Thousands of years ago, Paul was struggling in the same exact manner, not understanding what he did and why he did it but he knew that it was not what he actually wanted to do.
Here’s the struggle in Paul’s own words:
I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.Romans 7:15
When we’re trapped in the vicious cycle of self-condemnation, life might seem hopeless. We feel like there’s no escape. We fail ourselves.
That’s exactly how I felt.
At the time, I didn’t know Jesus personally. So, I didn’t understand who could rescue me from myself and my shame. I had no idea how to get rid of my self-judgment and self-condemnation.
I hated myself, my decision-making, my choices, my past, and my present. Worst of all, 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.
I wrote this daily devotional for women to help alleviate the guilt and shame by sharing what God did for me. He can do the same for you.
Here’s my story.
What Guilt and Shame Felt Like in My Life
For as long as I remember myself, I felt guilty. My mother taught me that I was guilty of being born because she didn’t want me. She blamed me not just for being born but also for being born a girl. She actually dressed me up as a boy and called me a boy’s name when I was a child.
My mom convinced me that I was guilty of my father’s absence in her life. She assured me that I was guilty of her lack of professional career and working as a janitor. She persuaded me that I was guilty of her suicidal thoughts and poor mental health.
There isn’t a time I remember today when something bad in my mother’s life was not my fault as I was growing up.
I felt confused, distressed, anxious, burdened, and traumatized.
How I Coped with Guilt and Shame Through Addictions
I had to deal with all that shame somehow but no one ever taught me how. 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. I had no productive coping skills.
Comfort was offered to me by my family very early on in the form of alcohol, cigarettes, pornography, and sex. I also discovered emotional relief later on in compulsive international travel, obsessive shopping, and all-night clubbing.
RELATED: Sex Addition
My addictions developed over time, not overnight, so they took control of my mind eloquently and unnoticeably. I slept around, drank myself to the point of unconsciousness, smoked whatever was available, and danced a night away. I did all that regularly in order to avoid having 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 – it was Jesus Christ. I even wrote a book about identity in Christ, which you can download now for free here.
How I Discovered God’s Forgiveness
If only I learned about Jesus, ran into His arms right away, accepted Him into my heart, and became forgiven and shameless, that would make for a very short devotional. You’d probably not find it relatable because I’m sure you know: that is not how God works.
My journey into the arms of Jesus was long, painful, and involved two things I loved in life: sex and school. I loved sex because, as you already know, from early age sex was offered to me as a coping tool, so I grew up to be a sex addict. I loved school because it was the only place where I was a somebody. I was a nobody at home and was treated like dirt.
Becoming Pure and Holy (Justification)
In 2008, I graduated with high honors from a business school and a law school and I left Russia. I emigrated to America to live my “happily-ever-after” with an American Prince Charming. Yes, you guessed it right: I am a mail-ordered bride.
Prince Charming was held to the wall hands-down on April 9th, 2009 as three police officers took me away to a shelter for victims of domestic violence in Stone Mountain, GA.
In 2011, I started attending Buckhead Church here in Atlanta. 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 simply couldn’t comprehend it.
But I kept going to church because the modern music and the setup of Buckhead Church reminded me my old days of nightclubbing. And I liked Andy Stanley’s delivery.
God works in mysterious ways, and He led me to Jesus through Georgia State University.
The Internship Leading To Jesus Christ
In 2012, while attending an MBA Program at Georgia State University in Buckhead, I signed up for an entrepreneurship class. It was a field study. At the end of that year, we had to decide on the internship company.
On November 16th, 2012 at 6:30 pm my life was about to change forever.
Interestingly enough, God approaches each of us in the manner that’s the most familiar to us individually. God was using school to lead me to Christ.
I’m going to share with you some details just so you can see how amazing God is and how He knows our heart. He calls us by name and numbers our hair. He knew HOW to draw me to Christ. He knew it would have to be a sophisticated modern-day woman who could influence me and open the door into my eternity with Jesus. But I didn’t know any of it of course!
That evening, November 16th, 2012 at 6:30 pm, professor Gemmell sent out an email to our class. It changed my destiny forever.
In the natural, it went like this:
Field Study Class, I would like to welcome all of you to entrepreneurial field study, MGS 4590/8590 for spring semester 2013. Field study is a demanding but also an exciting and in some cases, life-changing experience. I am excited to have you in the course and look forward to working with you. I have attached the course syllabus for your review.Professor Robert Gemmell’s email excerpt
Please read this email carefully as it contains important time-sensitive information. Attached are the company profiles for the entrepreneurial firms who have thus far expressed an interest in participating in our course this fall. Please review these profiles immediately and begin contacting the firms that best fit your interests and skills. The companies attached are sincerely interested in our course but they do not have to hire someone unless they see a good fit.
However, looking back today, I see what the email actually was about:
Dear Anna, I would like to welcome you to a family of Jesus Christ, which you will soon join, though you have no clue what this even means right now. I know you don’t think you are a good fit for ministry and you were not raised in church, but God doesn’t require your application or permission. He chose you, and interesting things are about to happen in your life. They will seem like terrible adversity but know that God’s grace is sufficient for you. All the things that are coming at you soon God will use together for good.Professor Gemmell’s email the way I see it in 2019
I chose a company for my internship. It was a social business in need of digital marketing help. Perfect for me! I applied and got the opportunity after they interviewed me.
In early 2013, I began the internship. The first meeting was “odd.”
In the beautiful King and Queen plaza in Dunwoody, GA met a team of real-life people who looked “normal.” In a modern conference room, with modern furniture and equipment, the business meeting began with… a prayer? What? I was… um… puzzled. I was puzzled. A prayer to start a business meeting? I thought only those people who lived thousands of years ago did that kind of thing. I had no point of reference in my whole life to be able to comprehend modern people praying in a business meeting.
The CEO was a skinny, blond, drop-dead-gorgeous, high-heels-wearing, modern entrepreneurial woman. She started sharing with me how God told her what to name her business and that it was actually a regular occurrence (I mean talking to God).
Talking to God about business?
I had such a mix of feelings and thoughts. This was all too crazy for me. It felt really odd and abnormal. I had never seen people like this. I surely wasn’t exposed to God-hearing people ever. And the idea of relying on God for naming your business was beyond my comprehension.
I wanted to quit the internship but it was too late in the semester, and the company had already paid $1000 to GSU for me to intern with them.
I was stuck with God-hearing business folks, and it’s the very reason why you’re reading this devotional for women. That season was the beginning of my walk with Christ. I just had no clue at the time.
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.
Here’s my email to my professor from January 28th, 2013 sent with daily details describing my learning:
This is my journal. I am very impressed with where it’s taking me, really. Moreover, I hope you will not think that I am crazy. I honestly am very open to learning from Carol and her quite UNIQUE way of doing business. If you find this whole thing crazy, let me know, because that’s what I thought at first, too. I will shorten my journals, if you ask me to, and will make sure I don’t share too much.Internship report excerpt
My professor responded to my journal entry saying:
Hi Anna, wow – interesting report! Sounds like you are doing a lot of great things that can make a major impact. I agree that this is an unusual approach to business…but the company seems to be on sort of a mission that goes beyond traditional business principals.Professor Gemmell’s response to my journal entry
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Indeed, the business had a very special mission in my life – the CEO led me to Christ. I was about to get rid of all my guilt and shame accumulated over the years and weighing heavily. I was about to experience God’s forgiveness.
The Beginning of My Walk with Jesus
My colleagues at the internship company taught me a lot, but the most important first step in my faith journey was to learn from them how to pray.
They also shared with me how to hear from God. They invited me to come to church with an open heart. I signed up for the Starting Point at Buckhead Church where I asked lots of questions. It was a group environment facilitated by three seasoned Christians, and we all were given an opportunity to question the Bible or anything at all.
The blond, beautiful, and modern CEO of the internship 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.
My professor was right. The internship changed my eternity. I was baptized just a year later, but before I gave my life to Christ, my sexual addiction and alcoholism took me on a downward spiral. Here’s what happened.
I passed the entrepreneurship class with an “A” and I graduated with my MBA that same year with a 3.74 GPA.
After that, I continued my journey of spiritual growth and healing. I was still drinking heavily and sleeping around 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, who I had become, and what I had done with my life. And God stepped in to change things forever.
The Bible says this:
“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”1 John 1:19
I invited Jesus into my life and He offered me His forgiveness. I confessed my sins and asked Jesus to come into my heart, rid me of myself, take over, and make me new. I asked Him to prune me for greater fruitfulness. I asked Him to lead me and guide my everyday journey through life.
The Bible says this:
“In Him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace.”Ephesians 1:7
God’s grace liberated me from my past and made me new in my consciousness. That night, my soul experienced deep healing and peace that passes all understanding. I accepted Jesus as my lord and savior. I understood my justification. The blood of Jesus washed me white as snow.
I was redeemed.
From guilty and sinful, the sacrifice of Jesus took me to be viewed as holy and pure. I am forgiven! 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.
That’s how I went through justification, which is followed by sanctification and glorification. Let’s talk about sanctification now.
Becoming Christ-Like (Sanctification)
After that night, I accepted God’s forgiveness and 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 the flesh.
I learned that after justification, which was an event of accepting Jesus and God’s forgiveness, 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 begun. 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.
That battle was painful and exhausting. It continues even today. We must work out our salvation with fear and trembling, the Bible says. The temptations of the world are very real. Satan lures us carefully into trying that one drug just one time, or just saying yes to that guy coming over just once, or having just one drink… We must choose to walk in the Spirit and not in the flesh. This journey helps us become more Christ-like.
I fail often. 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. Let’s talk about that now.
Living a Guilt-Free Life for God’s Glory (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. I know that work is this very ministry.
Doing the work for God is hard. Writing these daily devotionals is painful. Putting myself out there in such a vulnerable manner is scary.
It’s the battle of the flesh and the Spirit.
In my flesh, I want to binge-watch Netflix comedies and never tell anyone about my past. Yet, in my spirit, I have a calling from God to produce genuine content and share it with YOU and other women who need to hear this. By the way, if this content is helpful, you may express your gratitude.
The journey of sanctification is filled with trials and tribulations. My character is the same old when I try to do life in my own power. I get angry, anxious, depressed, or scared. 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 because I reach out and accept God’s forgiveness.
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. Also, I am intentional about my discipleship and strive to honor God with my lifestyle out of gratitude for what Jesus did for me, not out of my desire to earn His love. His love has been proven already – on the cross.
God and Forgiveness
I no longer carry my heavy bag of inheritance given to me in Russia years ago, the bag filled with guilt and shame. God’s forgiveness released me from the heavy burden. I abide in Christ and meditate on God and forgiveness daily – not only for my own forgiving but also to practice forgiving others.
Here’s what I’ve learned from my experience of accepting God’s forgiveness: we must confess our sins, accept responsibility, and repent.
Repentance must follow the process of accepting God’s forgiveness. The only way for us to know if we truly accepted Jesus and His sacrifice is our genuine repentance.
I remember falling on my knees and confessing my wrongdoings 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.
Here’s how it happened – I described it in this poem called “Identity.”
Only God Forgives
Only God forgives. He’s the source of all forgiveness. That’s one aspect of it. The second important point is that God forgives. He had forgiven already. We just need to understand how to accept His gift of forgiveness. That’s the reason I wrote this free online devotional “I am Forgiven.”
Through Christ, I was able to develop a new identity as a daughter of God, the king of the universe. Slowly, I learned to reach out for His grace every moment. By the way, mercy means God forgives the debt we owe, grace means He blesses us on top of that.
Remembering that Jesus bled and died on the cross to pay for my mistakes, offenses, and sin, I was able to realize this: 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, accept His forgiveness, forgive myself, and move on shameless.
DAILY DEVOTIONALS FOR WOMEN
- “I am Hopeful” – Devotional #43
- “I am Loving” – Devotional #42
- “I am a Child of God” – Devotional #23
- “I am a Citizen of Heaven” – Devotional #24
- “I am a Difference Maker” – Devotional #27
- “I am a Disciple of Jesus” – Devotional #22
- “I am a Peacemaker” – Devotional #29
- “I am a Princess” – Devotional #20
- “I am Accepted” – Devotional #2
- “I am Alive” – Devotional #8
Jesus paid for all my sins. He paid for all your sins. 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. You are His special daughter. You are His Princess, a daughter of the king!
Do you believe?
Here’s a 5-step process I recommend for how to accept forgiveness from God once and for all.
How To Accept God’s Forgiveness: 5 Steps
- Accept Jesus as your lord and savior
Ask yourself “Do I believe that Jesus sacrificed His life so I can have mine?”
- Understand the meaning of what happened on the cross
Ask yourself “Do I believe that the blood of Jesus washed my sins as white as snow?”
- Reach out for the gift of God’s mercy and grace
Ask yourself “Do I believe that I am forgiven and purified from unrighteousness?”
- Receive God’s forgiveness and forgive yourself
Ask yourself “Am I above God? If He forgave me, how can I not forgive myself?”
- Repent and live a life free from guilt and shame
Ask yourself: “Am I feeling genuine regret for my sin? Am I ready to walk with Christ and honor God with my life?”
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If you said yes to the five questions asked during the forgiveness acceptance process above, memorize the Biblical affirmation I created for you and practice it often to remember that you are forgiven by God once and for all.
"I Am Forgiven" #52Devotionals
I'm forgiven by my Father,
Cleansed from my unrighteousness.
I am pure and I am holy,
Brand-new in my consciousness.
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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 for women helped you, download my FREE BOOK OF DEVOTIONALS called #52Devotionals now.
You and I both have had plenty of things to regret in life. Carrying the heavy bag of guilt and shame is painful. That’s the very reason why Jesus came here to liberate us from our burdens and set both you and me free.
He redeemed us. We don’t have to continue carrying the heavy bag.
I created a meditation for you, filled with positive Biblical Affirmations to uplift your spirit, help you relax, and encourage you.
Accepting God’s forgiveness and forgiving yourself will help you have a joyful life if you embrace God’s word and follow steps 1-5 above for how to accept God’s forgiveness.
I hope my story shows you how difficult carrying my own bag of guilt and shame was for me. Accepting God’s forgiveness set me free from addictions and allowed me to have a new life.
God is merciful and gracious.
He sent His only son to redeem us at a high price because He loves us so much. God loves you unconditionally for eternity. Reach out for His forgiveness and accept it today.
If this devotional helped you, share it with a woman who needs it right now.
Anna Szabo is the founder of Online Discipleship For Women, a Christian ministry committed to alleviating suicide among women globally by sharing hope in Christ. Anna teaches how to create a joyful life by embracing God’s word based on her own journey of faith and fortitude.
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