What Tammy Faye Taught Me

The day after Christmas, 2014. For some reason, every mistake I made all year long has come back to haunt me. Every time I lost my temper, every stupid business decision and every bad choice made in general kept me up all night last night deep in regret. The icy hand of guilt has clutched it’s fist onto my chest all through today. My heart feels burdened and heavy.

So why is it so much easier to forgive others for their mistakes than it is to forgive ourselves? I know many of us mentally beat ourselves up over and over again for some dumb thing we did. I know I personally torture myself by replaying the scenario over and over in my mind. I wish I could take back the foolish or hurtful thing I said or did to someone.

I’ve been plagued by this question of forgiving myself all day. Quite frankly, I’m tired of being mad at myself all the time. Wallowing in my self pity over screwing up once in awhile is getting old. I need a new scene. I mean, who the hell do I think I am? Miss Perfect?

Mistakes are made for a reason. We not only learn from them, but they make us stronger. Everybody knows that. There are happy little photos that circulate all over Facebook and Pinterest that tell us so.

So here I sit. Getting ready to say goodbye to the old year and ring in the new. I feel almost in a state of limbo. I’m at the edge, falling off of one mountain top and getting ready to climb a new one. Well, I cannot climb this new mountain with all this old guilt and shame tied on my back. It’s entirely too heavy.

Remember Tammy Faye Bakker? She and her husband were founders of the PTL Club. The infamous televangelists gone wrong. Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker, were quite the scandal back in the 1980’s. She was consistently the butt of the late night talk show host’s jokes. Who can forget that heavy pancake make up she wore, and the rivers of mascara that ran down her face when she cried and apologized for her transgressions. Even I made fun of her, finding humor and a satisfying sense of pleasure from seeing a preacher and his wife disgraced in front of the world. My opinion of Tammy Faye changed years later when while channel surfing she caught my eye on what I call “The God Channel.” You know, one of those 24/7 preaching at you networks.

According to her, back in the days of the Old Testament, in certain regions the punishment for murder was to carry the dead body of the person you killed on your back, all day/every day for weeks, months, even years. Can you imagine? The weight of a lifeless, decaying body on your back? In the heat of the desert!!! So you have to not only suffer with the weight of the body, but with the stench, the maggots, and even worse, the shame.

Well, she continued to explain, that is exactly what we are doing when we don’t forgive ourselves. Guilt and shame are just like carrying that dead body around day in and day out. You get to a point where you just can’t do it anymore. You get tired and broken. It’s only when you throw that dead body off your back that you can heal and move on. And how do we get that dead body off our back? We forgive ourselves.

It was after that I saw Tammy Faye, God rest her soul, in a whole new light. She was put through the ringer by the press. Yes, she did make horrible decisions. She was humiliated by her husbands thievery and infidelity. Still, she had the courage to forgive herself. She went on with her life. She looked the world in the face, and went on to help a lot of people.

2015 is a fresh start. A time to forgive myself. After all, it’s clear I have enough critics out there. If I’m mad at myself all the time, I don’t have a prayer. Neither do you. So stop beating yourself up for being human. Stop feeling guilty for your mistakes. And for God’s sake, get that dead body off your back.

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