Issue: I used to be really close to God, however in the last few years as I look back all I see is pain and misery. Where was God in that painful time? Why wasn't he there for me? If God really loved me he would have been there.
Insight: I am so sorry that you have had such a difficult time in your life over the past few years. There are several reasons why bad things happen in our lives, however God is everywhere, all the time, even if we don't see it. It reminds me of the footprints poem.
I believe that our thought processes always go in a negative direction if we are not actively watching our thoughts and directing them in a positive direction. 2 Corinthians 10:5 states, "We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ." We as Christians need to watch our thoughts and make sure that they line up with the truth found only in Jesus Christ.
I myself have experienced times when I have felt like I was abandoned by God, but now as I look back I can see exactly the moments he picked me up and carried me. Life is not easy and there will be times in our lives that are painful, just know God is always there and he waits for us to reach out to him. I have found that a change of perspective helps dramatically. For example, the poem describes a person who can only see the footprints. Now if that person had looked at what happened from a side view, the person would have seen Jesus carrying them. It is amazing what a change in perspective can do when examining your life. The best way to get a fresh perspective is to talk to someone you trust, and listen to their view of what is happening. Another great thing to do is talk to God. Ask him to show you where he was in those dark times. He will reveal it to you.
Issue: I have an easy time forgiving others but have a difficult time forgiving myself and moving on from the mistakes I have made.
Insight: It is great that you are able to forgive others so effectively, many struggle with forgiveness more than others. I can relate to your situation, as I have always found it harder to forgive myself than to forgive others. I expect a lot of myself, in fact, I think I expect more of me than God does. The way that I have dealt with this is to try to see myself through God's eyes. He created me, and He sees me as perfect, not because I do nothing wrong but because Jesus has already paid the price for my mistakes.
The only thing that happens as a result of me punishing myself is I am hurting myself. This breaks God's heart. He does not like seeing His precious children in pain, especially self-inflicted pain. It is when I saw myself in this way that I found it easier to forgive myself. I also find that my love for God grows deeper each day and as a result all I want to do is make Him happy which actually helps me make less mistakes. When you make a mistake you can either run to God or from God, my question is: if you harbor unforgiveness towards yourself are you being drawn closer to God or farther away from God?
Issue: People keep telling me that depression is a sign that I am struggling with my walk with God. I feel like my relationship with God is strong, yet I am still depressed.
Insight: Depression is an issue that has really hit North America hard in the last few years. From my experience depression is no respecter of persons. it can target anyone no matter how close or how far you are away from God.
Depression sometimes has a medical cause, in these cases I would consult a physician in order to receive treatment. In the cases without a medical cause, there are many things that could be the cause and it could take a great deal of time and reflection to discover it. Counseling can be an effective tool in order to discover the cause and be able to deal with it effectively. Another way to discover the cause is to ask God to reveal the cause to you. The one thing to remember is that God will never give us more than we can handle so if he does not reveal the cause to you right away, it may be because you are not strong enough to deal with it at this time.
There are two choices when something like this occurs in our lives, one is to run to God and the other is to run from God. Just remember in this difficult time to continue to run to God. It can be difficult to continue to run to Him if we feel like he is not answering our prayers, however He is listening and He will answer your prayers in the timing that is best for you. His desire is His best for you.
I strive to help others by being a safe place for others to ask questions and pose issues they face.