Here are six ways you can recover from past mistakes.
Mistakes as Learning Opportunities
I believe that we actually learn more from our mistakes than we do from our successes. In fact, the lessons learned from my many mistakes were learned much better than any textbook I ever read. The mistakes we make remind us of how not to do something more than how to do something. In my life, I gained much experience from doing things the wrong way, not intentionally, but by making honest mistakes. These lessons are valuable and tend to stay with us for a much longer period in our lives. If not for all of my mistakes, I wouldn’t have learned as much as I have. I use my mistakes as a learning opportunity and don’t let them discourage me. Failure is never final, and, really, there is no success without first having failure. Thomas Edison said he didn’t fail in trying to invent a lightbulb; he just found 10,000 ways that didn’t work. His many failures ended up in success.
This is one of the greatest hurdles for people who commit mistakes. When people sin, they know that God will forgive them if they confess it (1 John 1:9). So why do we set a higher standard in forgiving ourselves? We keep resurrecting our mistakes from the grave just like some people who go fishing for the sins that God cast into the sea of forgetfulness. We must learn to forgive ourselves. Don’t we forgive others when they sin against us or make mistakes? Why then can we not forgive ourselves for making honest mistakes? If we never forgive ourselves, then we are tying ourselves to the past and attaching a ball and chain to our ankle, preventing us from going forward in our life.
Stop Looking Back
Paul, being human, must have surely made his share of mistakes. But what did Paul think about the past? Paul wrote, “I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 3:14), because those who “run in such a way as to get the prize” (1 Cor. 9:24c) never keep looking back; otherwise, they’ll stumble because they can’t see where they’re going. No one drives a car in reverse or drives on the road focusing primarily on the rearview mirror. We have to keep pressing ahead toward the prize of our high calling in Christ and run in such a way as to get the prize, not run in such a way that we keep looking over our shoulder.
Admit, Acknowledge, and Move On
I have made a lot of mistakes, but I admit them. If I have made a mistake in regard to someone else, I apologize to them and ask for their forgiveness. If they don’t forgive me, that’s okay. That’s their problem. If I make an honest, sincere, and genuine mistake about someone or something, it’s best to admit it to them and acknowledge it, ask for their forgiveness, and then move on from there. I can’t change how someone responds, only how I do.
You Are Not Your Failures
You cannot identify yourself with your failures. That is to say, you can’t say you’re a failure just because you have failed any more than you can say you are a mistake because you’ve made mistakes. We are not what we think we are. We are what we think! Think on what you’ve learned from your mistakes and failures, and don’t associate yourself with them.
See Yourself as God Sees You
Sometimes we are misunderstood or our words are taken out of context and in the wrong way. Don’t worry about what others think about you and your mistakes. Try to see yourself as God sees you. What God thinks about you is of infinitely more value than what others say or think or even what you think about yourself. It’s only what God thinks that matters.
Learn from your mistakes, forgive yourself, stop looking back, acknowledge your mistakes, and move forward. You are not your failures. Try to see yourself in the way that God sees you, and that is that you are loved unconditionally, regardless of your imperfections. That’s what grace is all about, isn’t it?
May God richly bless you,
Pastor Jack Wellman[ssba]
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