Last night I was asked some tough questions by a friend. They were not tough to answer, just tough to take responsibility for. I honestly think sometimes it is harder to forgive ourselves than for us to forgive other people. Like all, I have made some pretty buff mistakes. Hindsight really shows things for what they are; many things I once thought were “alright”, I now believe to be shameful.
The names of these things are unimportant. The purpose it would serve to share in detail, as so wisely stated by my friend, would be only to feed curiosity. You are already curious, aren’t you? If not, I applaud you. You have learned an important craft. All that is needed to serve the purpose of this chapter is knowledge of our bend to fall short of perfection.
Perhaps you have also rationalized actions and reactions like me. “For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.” Sound familiar? I think we use Newton’s Law of Motion to rationalize many sins. I find that I have on many more than one occasion said to myself, “if he had not done this, I would not have to do this” or “I’ve been put in a position where I had no choice.” There is a choice, though. It may be the hardest choice we have ever had to make, and probably it means losing some pride or some pleasure. But there’s always a choice when it comes to doing right or wrong.
Sure, perspective makes a huge difference. That’s part of the rationalization. I’m a huge believer in assessing if our perspectives are off or not. It’s not easy, because it means we have to step outside of our emotions and familiar opinions to take in the bigger picture. The Holy Spirit was sent to help us with this. our acknowledgment of wrongdoing is not what this chapter is about, though. It is about what we do with that acknowledgment. The Holy Spirit helps us with that, too.
My friend responded to my shame about the situation with “that’s not good.” I am actually still unsure why he said that, but I do know what my shame has built in me. At first, I definitely rationalized the mistake. I made so many excuses that I made excuses for my excuses. Then when I realized what effect it had on my heart and others around me, I was sorry. I became more than sorry-I tortured myself with my sin. I kept trying to make amends, but at that point it was too late. The damage had been done. It was no longer an issue of the other person forgiving me. It was an issue of me getting past my mistake and living on.
By no means am I encouraging anyone, including myself, to ignore mistakes. However, if we accept Christ’s forgiveness for these things, we should not live as though we still carry their burdens. It only feeds the lie of the Deceiver, allowing him an influential position in our lives. The Deceiver doesn’t want us to live victoriously, but God does! God wants us to share His Good News, loving Him and loving others. It is exceedingly difficult to do that if we carry the burden of our mistakes in our hearts. Carrying guilt taints our relationship with others. It makes us think we have no positive future. It discourages the opportunity for restoration.
Upon conversing with my friend, I realized I have not yet allowed myself to let go of guilt about a couple of mistakes I had made in the past. Perhaps the evidence is not starkly visible, but this guilt has built walls and false notions in my head. We are not to live with shame. God desires for all to be saved. God sent His only Son for there to be a new beginning and restoration in us. Jesus said, “I am come that they might have life, and that they might have life more abundantly“. (John 10:10) If we live with shame in our hearts, we live as though we were still dead. It’s mighty hard to share about life when we live in death.
Thanks, friend, for bringing that to light.
*Picture by Snailbooty.