Life, Church, The Faith

The Power of Self-Forgiveness

My name is Jonathan Hare. I do not go to a university that currently has FOCUS, but FOCUS has made a big impact on my life this year. I had the pleasure of attending the SEEK conference in San Antonio, TX, and it was one of the most beautiful and fruitful conferences I have been to.

I had many things going on in my life before going to the conference, and I was struggling to figure them out. One of those things happened to being able to forgive myself of past sins I have committed.

For 9 years, I thought that if I held onto those sins I would be able to not do them again.

For 9 years, I let Satan tell me that it was okay to not forgive myself of my sins.

For 9 years, I told God that I believed when He forgave me but I couldn’t forgive myself.

While doing that, I told Him that His forgiveness wasn’t enough. When I arrived at the SEEK conference, I was thinking and praying about this more and more. I started to realize what I had been doing, and I wanted to change my life to give Jesus all my love.

During the first part of the week, I was going to many different talks and hearing keynote speakers. It seemed like each talk was preparing me for the want/need to forgive myself, and the battle that would ensue when I would try to do so. When Wednesday night came, I was ready to forgive myself of my sins.

The keynote right before that, Sr. Bethany Madonna, shared a story of a woman who wanted to have her sins of abortion forgiven. On the drive there, the woman started being tempted to not share the second abortion and was struggling to fight against the Devil’s temptations. She started saying the Hail Mary prayer over and over. She got to the priest in tears, and asked for her sins to be forgiven. This was a battle she just won over the Devil.

Now right after the talk we had adoration and confession, and I knew that it was my time to forgive myself of my sins. I asked three of my very close friends to pray for me during this time, because I knew it was going to be hard and would want to turn back.

After a little bit of Adoration, I got into the 3000 person line for confession. The first thoughts in my head went like this, “You know that it’s been 9 years. You don’t have to forgive yourself now.” Right then I realized that the battle had begun, and Satan was going to try everything in his power to stop me from forgiving myself. I started stating Hail Mary’s over and over.

I started to fight the good fight. About a third of the way through, I started to realize that this battle was very hard and I was losing strength. Right when I thought that, I got a huge surge of energy and I knew one of my friends was praying for me right then. I continued to fight. About two thirds of the way through the line I was growing weak again, and I got another surge of energy. I knew another one of my friends was praying for me. During that last third of the line, I knew it was getting close to fully giving myself to Jesus. All my imperfections and all my sins.

I knew that it was going to be hard, and there was two things I was praying for afterward: a hug from the priest who helps me through the confession, and to see Jesus right afterward. I didn’t care if I had to ask the priest to hug me, I just knew I was going to need a hug. As I got to the last little bit of the line, I got another surge of energy and I knew my third friend was praying for me.

I walked up to the priest and just started crying. I made it through the entire confession, and the priest forgave me of my sins.

9 years of sin. I couldn’t believe the weight that was taken off my shoulders.

I looked up with tears pouring down my face to ask the priest for a hug, but I looked up to see his arms wide open and saying “come here, brother. Welcome home.”

My body was numb with emotion. I didn’t know what to think or say.

I gave the priest a big hug and started to walk back to my seat. I got past the divider that was splitting adoration and confession, and I immediately dropped to my knees and started crying more. This was because Jesus was walking right towards me. A priest was doing the Eucharistic Procession around the room, and at that moment he was walking right towards me. I couldn’t believe my eyes.

All I could think of was praying. Jesus not only helped me come back to Him, but He gave me the two things I needed after my confession. I eventually made it back to my row, and I just started praying in the aisle. After a minute or two, I felt a hand on my shoulder. I looked up to see a random girl praying for me. I went back to praying, because I knew that was Jesus comforting me. I knew that Jesus called me back to Him in the biggest way, and I was very grateful. I ended up talking to the girl and my friends, and thanked them for being tools that the Lord used in my life.

I will remember that entire night for the rest of my life, because it was the night Jesus called me home. It was the start of a long journey of making my life completely His. The battle had begun, and I was at full strength. Bring in on Satan.