Psalm 51:1-12 (ESV)
Have mercy on me,[a] O God, according to your steadfast love, according to your abundant mercy blot out my transgressions. Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin! For I know my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me. Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight, so that you may be justified in your words and blameless in your judgment. Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me. Behold, you delight in truth in the inward being, and you teach me wisdom in the secret heart. Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow. Let me hear joy and gladness; let the bones that you have broken rejoice. Hide your face from my sins, and blot out all my iniquities. Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right[b] spirit within me. Cast me not away from your presence, and take not your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit.
How does forgiveness make one free and ascend oneself to higher heights? Well, without forgiving yourself, there’s no growth…without growth you cannot forgive others...without forgiving others, you become bitter and bitterness results in anger, and anger doesn’t promote Christian growth.
Therefore, going through each layer of forgiveness and the steps to forgive will aid in your growth. The first layer is surface forgiveness - white lies or petty situations involving someone else. For example, I forgive you for telling me I do not match or for lying to me about my relationship. The second is deep forgiveness - hurtful situations involving others. For example, I forgive my mother for leaving me and my father or I forgive my cousin for molesting me. The third is the deepest forgiveness - forgiveness of self. For example, I forgive myself for abusing my temple through drugs, alcohol or sex, or I forgive myself for not living up to my highest potential. As you note, there are multiple levels of forgiveness but the greatest one is of yourself. Hence, it is necessary to follow the process David indicated, “For I know my transgressions, and my sin is always before me.” Which is why we must ask God to “Create in me a pure hear, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.”