We need to forgive, and we want to be forgiven. Both of these can be hard to achieve. It's hard to forgive a person when the hurt they caused you doesn't go away. And it's hard to feel forgiven ourselves. Even if those we've hurt have said they forgive us -- and there will always be some who can't -- it is hard to forgive ourselves. We hurt ourselves when we do wrong, and that can be one of the hardest hurts to forgive. One thing is essential to forgiving ourselves and others: accepting the reality of what happened, the reality of what you did or of what happened to you. It shouldn't have happened; it was wrong that it happened; but it did happen. We have to start with the reality of our pasts if we are ever going to be free of them. We need to look at our pasts with great honesty. Once you can simply look at your past and accept the fact of it, you're in a position to start accepting responsibility for what you're doing with your life today. You can live your life on the basis of who you are today, not on the basis of what you did in the past or what was done to you in the past. This process is not an easy one. It is best done within a community of people who love you and accept you as you are. Best is a community that is rooted in forgiveness. Jesus' message was that freedom from our pasts is possible. He offers to give us both forgiveness for our pasts and the ability to forgive others. He offers us freedom to live in the present. To receive that gift from God, we have to get connected to the one who offers it.