The Miseducation Series
The Miseducation of James Fortune:
"I Forgive Me"
They say all good things must come to an end. And here we are at the end of The Miseducation of Music Series. I really can’t believe I've kept up with this blog for 3 months! Thanks to those of you that left a comment, clicked the like button, or even texted me personally to say, “Guuurrrrlll, I’m feelin’ this blog thing you doing.” It means a lot.
I hope you have not only enjoyed this series, but that it has also caused you to think deeply about the messages we interact with daily through song and other forms of media. I pray we all get better at determining whether or not something that sounds good is actually good. That’s really what’s at the heart of this series and this blog. My goal is to tell the story of the triune God in such a way that causes people to reject false narratives.
False narratives like this one - "Forgive yourself." This one gets under my skin and though it doesn’t cause me to roll my eyes, I does cause me to use this emoji, 🤦🏾♀️, a 💯times over.
After his personal indiscretions were exposed publicly, James Fortune wrote an album to himself called “Dear Future Me." One of the first singles to hit the radio from this album was an emotional ballet, "I Forgive Me." You can literally feel the anguish of a person haunted by their guilt and shame as the choir shouts out, “I Forgive Me!”
Though the verses of this song are filled with the truths of the gospel, the chorus deviates from how Scripture teaches us to address our guilt and shame. In Scripture, we never read of a man or a woman seeking to forgive themselves. Instead, in Scripture we find the stories of men and women crying out to a holy God for forgiveness.
So, where does this idea of forgiving oneself come from?
In the times that I have failed (like really really screwed up), I literally have a physical response. Guilt builds up in my throat. My whole body begins to feel heavy. I avoid looking at people as a way to hide shame within my eyes. When feelings of guilt and shame overwhelm my soul in this way, they also begin to construct an identity for me that tells me…
“Yana, you’re no good.”
“You’ll never get it together.”
“All you do is bring everybody down.”
“Nobody like fo’real fo’real likes you.”
Yeah, guilt and shame are mean. They’re like the evil sisters in Cinderella. They’ll have you believing all kinds of things that aren't true about yourself. And I think because on some level we know the identity these evil sisters construct for us is untrue, we start to recognize that the way we view of ourselves is the problem. However, this epiphany can lead a person to the unbiblical conclusion that they just need to forgive themselves.
Beloved, the remedy to our guilt and shame is not to enter into the process of forgiving ourselves. The remedy to our guilt and shame is to agree with God’s declaration over us.
Scripture teaches us that God is the judge concerning sin and that all who seek refuge in His Son’s work on the cross will be declared righteous by Him. When we enter into a process of trying to forgive ourselves, we are removing God from His place as judge and putting ourselves there. But homie, you’re a harsher judge! Lay down this trick of false humility of trying to forgive yourself. Instead, accept God’s declaration over you as being made right with Him through Christ. Agree with Him. For who can stand against God’s declaration? Who can protest His Word? Not Satan. And friend, not even you.
Near the end of this song, Fortune echoes this sentiment by calling his listeners out of their guilt and shame on the bases that God has already forgiven them. The task for us then is to live as those who have been forgiven. We'll pick up here next time as we start a new series called "Living" with a picture that helped me to grasp what "Living Forgiven" looks like.