We all make mistakes.
So cliche, I know…
But if we learn from our mistakes, then mistakes are actually our greatest teacher. Like any great teacher, however, lessons are prepared and presented but at the end of the day, WE decide how we apply those lessons to our every day life. The problem is that all too often, instead of allowing mistakes to be our teacher, mistakes become our traitor. We feel like they are the thing that has sabotaged our original purpose and plan. From this place we find ourselves in the land of regret.
It’s a word I just made up to make the title of this blog sound poetic. But it’s a portmanteau (or blended word)- we & regret. See, we regret far too often. I have regretted so much in my lifetime that I have denied the things that I have regretted, the ability to teach me and to turn my situation around.
We need to wage a war on wegret because as long as we continue to regret, we fail to find freedom…we stay in the place where the regret holds it’s greatest power- the past.
For example: When I became a Christian and understood Gods plan for sex, I started to regret all the sexual immorality I had allowed in my life up to that point. That regret kept me thinking that sex was sinful (which it was BEFORE I got married but was no longer within the marriage relationship I was in.). Maybe after reading my last blog post too, you felt the same way. Regret produced condemnation and condemnation produced fear- fear that I had missed out, fear that I would never be pure, and fear that I would never be good enough.
But this is not the heart of God. He MADE me good enough when I became a Christian! In that very act of believing in the Death, burial and resurrection of His Son, I was allowing the price for my sin (past, present and future) to all be paid- for His goodness to become mine. In reflecting on the sin that I had committed, a fire was ignited for the righteousness of God that had the power to purify me. But sometimes fires don’t just burn away the unnecessary evils, if we allow them to, they burn up the good in us too.
Why do we do this? Burn up the good? Throw the baby out with the bath water? I believe it’s because we don’t see the important role the “baby” has to play.
Some of the wise will stumble, so that they may be refined, purified and made spotless until the time of the end, for it will still come at the appointed time. Daniel 11:35
Ashes are what is produced when wood is burnt up. Back in the Bible days (not sure if people do this somewhere in the world these days), people would place ashes on their head in times where they were exposed to their sin and felt so much grief for what they had done, that it led them to repentance. In their repentant state, they showed their remorse by putting these ashes upon their head.
They reflected, they became remorseful and they repented. If repentance ruled my heart instead of regret, the ashes that came as a result of that burning process could have been traded in for a crown of Beauty. But I don’t regret that lesson I learnt.
Even your regret can become your teacher. Stop now. Take regret and turn it around for your good. How do you do that? Let me give you some ammunition…
The Word of God is sharper than any two edged sword, so let’s use it to help us wage this war. It tells us what God is like and in understanding what He’s really like in regards to regret, we can get a better perspective.
Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, forbearance and patience, not realising that God’s kindness is intended to lead you to repentance? Romans 2:4
The believers in Rome had the same problem I did back in those days. They were caught up in legalism and didn’t understand the grace of God. They disregarded the kindness that God had shown towards them up until that point. But today’s a new day… Let’s just look at this one verse and get to know what God is REALLY like (putting aside all of the perceptions you had of Him up until this point).
He’s Kind. In His Kindness, He reveals our sin to us because He knows how damaging it is to us (not to Him or His Kingdom as some might lead you to believe). He doesn’t expose our sin to push us away from Him but to draw us closer (The Hebrew term teshuvah (lit. “return”) is used to refer to “repentance”) He knows that in Him, we find the mercy and grace that empowers us to overcome the sin. I love these synonyms for kind that the dictionary gives us: good-natured, kind-hearted, tender-hearted, warm-hearted, soft-hearted, good-hearted, tender, caring, feeling, affectionate, loving, warm, gentle, mellow, mild. That’s what God is like. Doesn’t that make you want to return to Him when you’ve walked away? He’s so full of Love.
He’s forbearing. Another word for forbearing is tolerant. I think of my children in this season of my life where hormones are raging, children are becoming adults and conflicts of personalities are a frequent challenge. As much as I want them to be more mature and live above the behavioural difficulties they are displaying right now, I know they don’t have the capacity to. They are still children becoming adults. So I tolerate their behaviour for this season they are in because I understand that they’re not there yet. God is like the best parent. He doesn’t tolerate our sin because He condones it. He tolerates it because He knows we are still on the journey. He knows that we are changed but that we are changing still. He knows that we are still a work in progress.
He’s patient. God is SO much more patient with us than we are with Him. Don’t we get impatient with God sometimes? Thinking He needs to hurry up and get with OUR Program? That struggle is REAL! Thankfully, even in our impatience, He is patient. 2 Peter 3:9 says: The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. Love is patient and God is love. He exemplifies love by showing us this amazing patience with our sinful selves. Our sin and our mistakes don’t stop Him from loving us, they allow Him to display unconditional love. If we didn’t do the things that would necessitate His unconditional love (love not based on what we do or conditions He has set down for us to keep before He offers us His love), we wouldn’t know the wonder of it. His love is wonderful.
So, reflect on your mistakes and your sins, yes. Reflect instead of regret. Let reflection birth repentance. Let mistakes become teachers for that next, best thing.
Last year as my marriage ended and I had to face people, breaking the news of what some would deem a “failure”, I succumbed to regret. I thought “I messed it up!” The plan was mine to be married and as much as I tried to keep it together, the end result was evident.
Then in the kindness of God, He placed a man in my life who spoke these words as He felt Heaven give him a message for me.
He said “Your story is the original copy.”
What relief and grace. I didn’t mess it up. It was actually the way it was meant to be because I live for a God who works all things together for good. A God to whom nothing is wasted. A God who sent His son to bestow a crown of beauty instead of ashes. I allowed the transaction to take place where I lay my ashes (the burnt up remains of my failed marriage) at His feet and He gave me something called Beauty.
Ashes represent grief. Grief can look like regret. But grief is the natural process of loss. We don’t lose when we win with God.
It’s not your mistakes that will cause you to miss out on your intended purpose, it is actually regret that will bind you up and keep you from accessing it. We need to win the war on regret so that we can move into the realm of our fullest potential.
He is turning our ashes into something beautiful. All that our past pain has taught us, all that it has ignited and birthed within us, all the strength that it has built for us, will now be used to propel us into our destiny.
Walk free from regret today, friend. It’s not where you belong.
Love you x