When I believed that I had really sinned, I would've rejected God on the basis that the sin PROVED I could not be loved. I believed the sin was real, therefore that it was TRUE of me.
And since I believed the sin was true of me, I would've actually viewed God's love as false, unfounded, unjustified and something I did not want. If it was offered, I would've rejected it and sneered at it like someone had just said something ridiculous, or that it was even offensive. I did not believe in it, and was certain of rejection.
The sense of having sinned and the belief in real sin produced a new IDENTITY. A false self. An ego. It changed the definition of my "self", from innocent to guilty. Not just like a label being added on top of my innocent self, but a suggestion that I had become corrupted and transformed and changed into a guilty person. As if my very sense of WHO I AM was altered and turned into sin or evil.
Then anything which was in agreement with truth of sin, was in agreement with me, and I would not only defend it but cultivate it. I would express the belief - prayer - that sin was real and that I was sinful, and that this was truth. Therefore, I would "hire", attract or invite, or make agreements with people who were to come and punish me. Not necessarily in a fully conscious way but still a choice based on that belief.
So people showed up, to reflect back to me what I believed was true about myself. Even if I did not like what these people did, and even if I thought they were an enemy, and even if they were hurtful, somewhere inside I asked for it with my belief in sin, and I got what I asked for. I proved over and over again how sinful I am. And if there were people who were not a part of this, who were attempting to be kind and loving, who chose to overlook my sinfulness, I did not trust them or believe them, and instead rejected the love.
As time went on and I got fed up with the suffering, I gradually started to come around and seek some kind of healing. I had a lot of insights about self-forgiveness, and the fact that nobody around me was offering forgiveness clarified that I simply was not going to be forgiven unless I claimed it for myself. That seemed like a bold move, to claim innocence when everyone else seemed to be reflecting sinfulness and believed in my sinfulness. But it was a stepping stone towards seeing myself differently.
Over time I came to clearer expressions of the idea of my innocence, but mostly these were rationalizations or justifications, or other explanations within the scope of the ego illusion, where I kept trying to explain to myself that it was "ok" that it happened. I was trying to resolve the belief in the sin without actually undoing the belief that it happened. I even dug into past lives and became aware of how the person involved had done the same thing to me before, and how this was in fact his lesson to learn as well, and for me to learn his prior perspective. But that didn't fully alleviate the guilt either.
Because I believed that the sin was real, I believed there was truth to it, and I was still prepared to defend that, deep down. I thought I'd worked through all this, on a "world is real" ego level as best I could, to clear out all the "damage", but when I exposed myself to a higher truth it came back out to exclaim itself. To defy and deny that the truth was true.
The truth was revealed only by being willing to look at the idea, that sin is not reality. That is it not actually REAL. That things which "happened", were a dream, an illusion of things happening, and that it was my taking it seriously and thinking it was real that led to all of my upset about it. Perceiving illusions to be real, IF they were real, it WOULD have meant that I really did sin. And that MUST mean that I could not be loved. Without the undoing of the idea of "real sin" there was basically no way to fully and deeply escape from the torment that "real sin" implies.
If sin is real, you simply MUST be guilty, and there is no escaping that, no matter how much you justify it, no matter how much catharsis you have, and no matter how metaphysical or mystical you get in explaining why it was "meant to happen" or was karma or was an accident or was intentional or whatever. Nothing will fully FREE you from the guilt and the constant PRODUCTION of more guilt, while the sense of "real sin" remains in place, unchecked.
If your sin is real, it simply will keep generating more guilt and fear over and over, and keep reinforcing itself, and keep proving that you're sinful, and keep attracting disasters, and any time that anyone targets you with any kind of attack, that same sin will rise up in your mind to RE-MIND you that its TRUE, that you really are a sinful wicked person who deserves the abuse you're getting. Even if you don't like the experience and want it to stop on some surface level.
The ONLY way to be free of all of the suffering, ego, rebounds, punishments, shame, self-attack, attracted reinforcements, events, people and justifications, and to finally fully put it to rest, is through the PROPER FORGIVENESS. Through the Atonement.
That means, actually coming to realize, be open to, and accept as TRUE, the fact that the so-called "sin", the thing that you thought you did, was not REALITY. It sure was a convincing illusion at the time, you REALLY thought you really did something awful, that it had "real" consequences, and therefore redefined you as a "real sinner". ALL of that has to be FALSE.
In God's truth, in God's reality, God created you as innocent. Permanently. You don't even have any functionality in your being that is capable of generating a real sin. You are absolutely incapable. Innocence cannot even begin to conceive of real sin. And in God's reality, which is the true reality, it is not possible to be separate from God. Therefore you cannot actually "do" anything. You cannot actually sin, or hurt anything, or anyone, or mess anything up, or really produce really bad consequences, or commit a real crime, or do anything evil whatsoever, because there IS no "real world" in which to do these things. There is only the illusory dream world that you THOUGHT was real.
So you must be open to the idea that sin is not real or true, if you are to accept the atonement. It is the only way you can be innocent. If sin is real, you're stuck. If the world is real, you're stuck. The ONLY way for you to lay claim to being 100% innocent through and through, in God's eyes and your own, is to RECOGNIZE that the illusion you thought was real, was NOT real, it was only an illusion. You did not REALLY sin. You did not REALLY do anything at all. And in that view, your so-called sin is forgiven.
ACIM says: "Forgiveness recognizes what you thought your brother did to you has not occurred (also what you did to them). It does not pardon sins and make them real. It sees there was no sin. And in that view are all your sins forgiven. What is sin, except a false idea about God's Son? Forgiveness merely sees its falsity, and therefore lets it go. What then is free to take its place is now the Will of God. "
I was trying and trying to pardon a real sin. It doesn't work at all. Because real sin cannot be pardoned. Only UNREAL sin can be pardoned.
Forgiveness sees there WAS NO SIN, and as such, your sins are forgiven. When Jesus says to someone "all your sins are forgiven", it is because He is literally recognizing that the person has not done any "real sins". So they're all seen with forgiveness and therefore Jesus is acknowledging your permanent innocence. Ie nothing "real" happened, nothing really happened, that's the Atonement.
"What is sin, except a false idea about God's son?" - in a nutsshell. I had a false idea about myself that I had become evil because I had committed a real sin. Everything about the situation SEEMED real. But it wasn't. I was unconscious and having a delusional nightmare. It did not REALLY happen at all. And because of that, I AM INNOCENT.
This innocence therefore reaches way beyond all illusions, beyond the world, beyond all events, beyond all illusory consequences. And this is not some kind of denial or further rationalization or an attempt to cover up the actual remaining presence of a belief tha the sin was real. It REALLY was not real at all, and if you can REALLY honestly believe that totally, then you are free. The world cannot have even HAPPENED in this innocence, which is why there is no world. The Atonement PROVES and demonstrates that the world is not real at all and does not exist. The ego is not real and does not exist.
Then there is great cause for relief, freedom and celebration, as you finally OWN and CLAIM the innocence which has been yours, for real, all along. Nothing can take it away from you. Nothing can stake a "real claim" of any kind that you don't deserve it. Therefore YOU ARE WORTHY OF GOD'S LOVE! All sense of unworthiness and the belief in it is nothing more than the belief that you are a real sinner. Undo that, and it becomes 100% obvious and clear that you MUST be worthy of God's love because you ACTUALLY ARE still innocent. And the atonement is something you can actually EXPERIENCE!
You are forgiven. God has never condemned you. You were GROSSLY MISTAKEN in believing that you had actually done something really wrong, producing real suffering. You just weren't perceiving illusions correctly. Sin is not real. There is no sin. "What if you looked within and saw, there is no sin?"
You're still the innocent holy child of God. You are still as God created you. Claim this atonement by recognizing ALL sin, guilt, fear, suffering, sickness and death, bodies and the world, are just part of an unreal illusion which is not reality at all. That's how you're still innocent, still worthy of God's unconditional love, and still authorized to be a part of Heaven.