Keep your soul properly conditioned to manifest the life of the Son of God. Never live on your memories of past experiences, but let the Word of God always be living and active in you.
— Oswald Chambers
Wow. Talk about profound. Take a second to let your brain dissect that thought.
We are our own worst critics. We demand much of ourselves, expect much of ourselves, and perceive nothing of ourselves. When it comes to work, I criticize myself on my efficiency, my knowledge, my critical thinking skills. I am never as quick, as precise, as error-free as I’d like to be. Basically, I’m not perfect and I hate that about myself. Yes, I know what you’re thinking: NEWSFLASH Becky – No one is perfect.
When it comes to interpersonal relationships (family, friends, patients, coworkers, etc.), I criticize myself on the harshness of my tone, my inability to make everyone happy, my ridiculously low threshold for getting frustrated. I hurt people with my words and then run back to apologize after I’ve said them…because in that moment I was upset. And in that moment I wanted them to be upset too.
Regardless of whether it’s work stuff or people stuff or personal stuff – we are our own worst critics. But why do we keep doing that to ourselves? Why do we keep running ourselves into the ground and judging ourselves so harshly? Yes, we all pretty much suck at life at some point or another. But are we really supposed to keep kicking ourselves when we’re down? Are we really supposed to be dwelling on the mistakes we’ve made in the past? Are we really supposed to be punishing ourselves over and over for being the imperfect creatures that we are? No, I don’t believe so. I believe that God has called us to more than that.
If He wanted to punish us for our past sins, day-in and day-out, I’m pretty sure He wouldn’t entrust that punishment to US – we would probably have some super scary, super harsh punisher-person, dressed like the grim reaper following us around everywhere, making life miserable for us. No, I don’t believe God wants to repeatedly punish us for the things He has already forgiven us of. I don’t believe He wants us to live lives of regret and sorrow. When you think about it, drowning in the regrets of your past isn’t really living, is it? No. I believe He wants us to live lives of VICTORY. He wants us to LIVE.
Something I’ve been really struggling with as of late is separating my past from my present and future. My past is my past. I am not who I once was. I am a new creation in Christ. And yet, I still refer back to my past with the expectation that it will predict my future. And being so focused on my past and my future leaves me no time to LIVE in the present. What a waste of time! What a waste of LIFE. The Lord has given me this time, right here, in the present, for a specific purpose. And what am I doing with it? Oh, I’m using all this LIFE I have right now, in the present, to think about things I have ZERO control over – my past and my future. What. A. Waste.
My past is my past. I am not who I once was. I am a new creation in Christ. And while I am prone to falling to certain things because of my past, I am not guaranteed of that failure. I am not that failure. I am not my past. How often we let our sins and bad decisions define us! We are more than the mistakes we’ve made. The guilt we feel is normal but it’s not healthy. And it’s certainly not what the Father intended for us. After all, He DID perform the greatest sacrifice/miracle/rescue mission known to mankind. And for what? For US. Because He knew we would fail. He knew we would fall to sin. He knew we would make mistakes and struggle against our flesh. And by His great mercy, He gave us an escape route. FOR FREE.
We need to stop looking to our past and convincing ourselves that our future won’t pan out because of the mistakes we’ve made. We need to stop justifying not making certain decisions, taking certain risks, simply because we’re scared to fall to sin again. We cannot let fear rule us. We cannot let our past define us. Knowing we are prone to making the same mistakes all over again – that is a BLESSING. Knowledge is a BLESSING, y’all. It’s what you do with that knowledge that counts.
Let me break it down for you:
I know I’m terrible at math. Like…..TERRIBLE. Don’t ask me to do any math in my head. I don’t care if it’s basic addition and subtraction. I can’t do it. I need a pencil and piece of paper. And a little extra time than the rest of the world does. It’s one of my weaknesses. It’s taken me a long time, but I’ve accepted this about myself. And so in order to compensate for this weakness, in order to overcome this weakness, I find other ways to make sure I do math correctly. I start preparing my medications at work a little earlier than other people – I like to do my medication calculations on paper. Written. I use a calculator and I check myself 3 times. I recognize this weakness of mine. And I have found a way to overcome it. I’m probably going to get shunned from the Indian/Malayalee community for even admitting this…but if it gets the point across, I guess it will just have to do! 🙂
In the same way, RECOGNIZING that we are prone to fall to certain things shouldn’t paralyze us. It shouldn’t stop us from living the lives that God intended for us to have. It shouldn’t keep us from trying new things, seeing where different roads lead us. Rather, we should allow this knowledge of our fleshly weaknesses to carefully, cautiously guide us along a new path. Don’t shut yourself off from something completely because you just KNOW, that you KNOW, that you KNOW, you’re going to fail. Hand it over to God. Be real with Him about your circumstances, about what you’re feeling. Entrust it to Him completely. No matter what your past was, it does NOT dictate your present or your future.
Now, we must be wise in how we do this. If we are just newly living in freedom from a particular sin, it’s probably not wise to jump back in just yet. In those instances, we must be like Joseph who FLED temptation (when Potiphar’s wife tried to seduce him). We must not even allow ourselves to come near to being tempted in that manner. But if we’ve been living in freedom from a particular sin for a good while, if we have grown in the Lord and have been able to more readily resist the flesh, then we shouldn’t let FEAR of failing paralyze us. If we truly trust the Lord, if we are sincerely asking Him to guide our steps, our hearts, our minds, then we MUST believe that He will be faithful. We MUST believe that we can overcome anything and everything with Him – even if it’s something that we failed to overcome in times past.
I don’t believe that God gave us this life and redeemed us from the gates of hell, just so that we could waste our lives guilting ourselves over past mistakes. I don’t believe that He did all that He did, just so that we could live in constant fear of failure. It is wise to keep ourselves from any possible doors to temptation, yes. But if a door is opened to you, by no will and no meddling of your hand, if you are genuinely seeking His will and guidance, if you are constantly trying with all of yourself to serve Him completely, then you must ask yourself: Will I trust that even in this really scary/risky circumstance (in terms of falling to sin), the Lord will guide me according to His perfect will and plan for me? Will I trust that the Lord will not lead me into temptation, but that He will give me clarity and wisdom to navigate the rocky shores ahead? Will I trust that just as He has been faithful to me in the past, He will be all the more faithful to me in the present and future?
Be honest with yourself. Be honest with God. Let Him know your fears, let Him know the turmoil within your heart. Stop being so hard on yourself. Stop beating yourself up all the time. We make mistakes. We are human. We fall to sin daily. But that doesn’t make God love us any less. That doesn’t lessen the Redemptive Power of His sacrifice on that Cross. If anything, it magnifies the Power of His Love for us. Love that overcame sin and death completely for our sake.
When we don’t know what’s ahead of us, it’s easy to look behind us and try to guess how the future will turn out. We look behind us and think, “Man, not that again.” Or we glance behind us and think, “It’ll be just like that one time.” At the end of the day, we don’t know the future. And our past certainly will not help us predict it. Rather than focusing on the past and trying to predict the future, we must remember to live in the present. In the now. In Christ. Because handing it over to HIM and letting HIM redeem our past and plan our future is the far better option. Always.
for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.
2 Timothy 1:7
There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.
The Lord is merciful and gracious,
slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.
He will not always chide,
nor will he keep his anger forever.
He does not deal with us according to our sins,
nor repay us according to our iniquities.
For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him;
as far as the east is from the west,
so far does he remove our transgressions from us.
If you’re struggling with how to overcome the guilt of past sins, click here. Know that you are loved. Know that you are not alone. Know that you have a God who loves you, despite you.