By Zack DeBerry
If you have lived long enough, you know it is inevitable that there are some things that you will regret. There are even things that, when thought about, bring feelings of shame. At some point in life, most everyone has a moment that they wish they could go back and change. Whether it is a choice you have made, something you did to someone else, or even something that someone else did to you, there are things in life we wish were different. While there is no such thing as a time machine to go back and change some of these things, there is hope for the future that things can be better. Your PAST does not define your FUTURE.
That is what regret and shame do to you. They constantly tell you that you are always going to live in the past. They whisper that those things from the past are always going to be there and you will never be able to escape them. It is easy to look in the past and believe that what we have done or what has happened to us will keep us from ever becoming all that God says we can become. Regret and shame are powerful things that can rob you of the future that God promises if not dealt with correctly. When it comes to dealing with regret and shame, there are some things that we can do to help us as we move beyond the past and into the future of God’s purpose and Hope. Here are two ways that can help you deal with regret and shame in your life:
1. Realize Your Past is Not Your Present
Many people struggle with regret and shame in their daily life because they forget that their past is not who they really are today. They allow themselves to constantly look back on mistakes or circumstances from the past rather than living in the truth of who they are TODAY. When we recognize that we are not what we used to be, but something completely new and different, it allows us to be free from the past that keeps us held down from God’s purpose. The Apostle Paul wrote a letter to the church of Colosse that I find comfort in during times of regret and shame in my life. The people of this church had basically lost their way and forgotten who they were in the New Life of Christ, so Paul reminds them of their identity.
In Colossians 3:12, Paul writes this:
12 Since God chose you to be the holy people He loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. (NLT)
Paul was essentially saying, “You are not nobodies. You are God’s chosen, you are holy, you are loved, so act like it.” This is a dose of reality we all need in the moments of regret and shame in our lives. We are not the sum of our choices or decisions or mistakes. Our identity is found in the person and work of Jesus Christ. We are Chosen, Holy, and Loved, so let’s live in that truth and identity rather than the past.
2. Be Real about the Struggle
Another thing that regret and shame can do is isolate us and make us feel alone. This can create many problems for us. When we feel alone and isolated, we are at our weakest point. The only way to deal with regret and shame is to somehow, someway allow others to walk through it with us. It is not an easy thing to do, but if you want to be free from the regret and shame of the past, you must find someone or a community of people that you can trust to walk through it with you. Regret and shame can be difficult to deal with, but it is much easier to deal with it when you are not alone. The enemy we face in this life would love nothing more than to isolate you and make you feel alone and empty. The God of Hope is always found in Community. When we allow others to come along side of us and walk with us through our struggles, we are able to see the person and work of God more clearly. You are not perfect, and we need others to help us in our deepest times of need.
There are other ways to deal with regret and shame as well. As we begin a new series at Journey THIS Week, I pray that if you or someone you know is struggling to let go of the past, that you would make plans to be with us to talk about what a life free of regret and shame could look like. I hope to see you THIS Sunday at 9AM or 11AM!