If there’s such a thing as God picking the most stressful of His children, I’ll most likely be his first choice. Why? Am I a mistake magnet? Did some fairy godmother cast a regrets and bad decisions making spell on me? Gosh!
Like me, you may have concluded that your talent is making bad decisions. Bad decisions that end up disrupting the initial plans and timing God had in mind for you. It is so bad that memories of your past fill you with guilt and shame. You also dread the future because you fear you might just ruin it with another bad decision.
If you find this relatable, I want you to know you’re not alone. More importantly, I need you to know that God doesn’t want you feeling this way.
Personally, I have found that regrets and bad decisions are devil’s tools of oppression. They are like a door leading to several doors – condemnation, hopelessness, despair, depression. One door leads to another and then another till it is impossible to keep moving. It is usually at this point that you begin to contemplate suicide. Simply because you have refused to let go of your past and have believed in a lie that your bad decisions are greater than God’s grace and forgiveness.
So what’s the way out? How do you deal with the ghost of bad decisions? How do you move on from the hurt and regrets?
1. Forgive yourself.
Another way to put this is to have faith in God’s forgiveness. My Pastor once made an inference to two bible characters who both made bad decisions – Judas and Peter. Consider it well, both offences bordered on betrayal, yet we see different reactions. While Judas gave in to condemnation and hung himself, Peter ran back into the loving arms of Jesus.
Look, it is no lie that bad decisions may be heavy enough to pull you into the grave. But what about the love of Jesus for you? What about His grace? Jesus did not refuse Peter when he returned. No, he was accepted and even given a position in the church. And we see this throughout scriptures eg. The story of the prodigal son.
First of all, try to understand that this story is more difficult to comprehend as an African. I mean, how do you request for your inheritance while your father is alive? Do you want to kill him? I am so sure that if this story took place in Africa, the father would have disowned the son.
However, this story goes beyond our cultural inclinations. It describes the lavish love of God towards us. Rom 5:8 tells us that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.
And so what did the Father in this story do? While the son was yet a far distance off, he ran to meet him. Best believe that the father stood watch every day at that balcony, hoping to see his lost son.
The love of God is constant, unflinching, and always reaching out to us.
Even when we despise ourselves, He doesn’t.
This is why you should forgive yourself. God isn’t holding your sins against you, so why should you?
Today, make a decision to let go of the grip that regret and bitterness has on you. Run back into the loving arms of the Father. Let his love soothe your pain, let it heal your past.
2. Trust in the Lord.
Our God is a great God. He is full of power and might; He is also a good and loving Father. Understanding that He has both the power and willingness to turn your mistakes around for His glory will strengthen your heart whenever regrets try to well up.
Child of God, your bad decisions are not greater than God’s grace. If anything, they make it more obvious.
Check out this story Jesus narrated in Luke 7:41. I’ll tweak it a little so we can understand it better. Two men owed a man N50,000 and N500,000 respectively. Unfortunately, neither had the money to repay the loan, so this man forgave and cancelled their debts. Jesus turning to his listener, a Pharisee, asked which of them will love the man more. The Pharisee replied saying the man whom he forgave more. In verse 47, Jesus concluded by saying that he who is forgiven little loves less. In the same vein, he who is forgiven more loves more.
So here you are, with a despicable past and many regrets. God would want you to know that this seemingly too-large-to-be-renewed past is the reason why you’re even more qualified to receive His love.
Another scripture I find very comforting is Rom 8:28. Note that this scripture says, “In all things.” Perhaps you have placed a limit on God’s grace in your mind. Now is the time to take it off. Maybe the mistakes that haunt you are those you made after you came to Jesus. He wants you to know that His grace covers them too. God’s grace isn’t just for mistakes you made before you met Jesus. His forgiveness was an everlasting provision that we received.
I write this because often times we are harder on ourselves as children of God. We think, “Oh, but I have the Holy Spirit. I should have known better. If only I had listened to him…”
My relationship of one year ended recently. And it was painful as usual, even though I initiated it. I recall the events that took place before I agreed to date him. Due to excitement, I put away discernment and good counsel. I went to God but wasn’t really asking for his leading. It was more like, “Daddy, I’ve found someone I like. I think I’m going to say yes to him but I thought to inform you first. Thanks for listening, Dad.”
Because of this, my perception of what God was saying was flawed. I remember also mentioning it to my good friend and her advise was for me to give it some time. Like I said, I was too excited and didn’t see any valid reason to delay it further. To make things more intense, He was to relocate to another state so I felt it would be good to settle things before he left and changed his mind. And so I said yes.
My people, when the issues came, I was not prepared. I got frustrated and at the first sight of an opportunity to call it off, I grabbed it. But the thoughts haunted me. Especially the warnings I ignored before I said yes to him.
I struggled with guilt and unforgiveness and blamed myself for being impatient and undiscerning. Also, I despised myself for spoiling God’s plan and wasting an entire year. But I’m so grateful for the Holy Spirit. He saw the turmoil I was in and ran to my rescue.
He began to teach me how to forgive myself and him. He helped me move my focus from the guilt of my bad decisions, to His love for me. He also showed me lessons I could learn from the experience instead. It’s been one intense journey of learning and unlearning, but I am so thankful that God fathers us the way He does.
Beloved, God’s grace is aware of your weaknesses. His grace is for when you stand strong and when you stumble. There will never be a mistake greater than His love and plans for you. He will always find a way to rescue and bring you back to His will.
3. Forgive those who have hurt you.
Looking back at your past, you may conclude that things would not ended as terribly as they did and that you could have made a better choice if someone or some certain people didn’t contribute to it by their actione.
In my own case, I believed that if my ex had been more understanding, I would not have been so frustrated with the relationship and broken up. Your case may be different. Perhaps you grew up in a dysfunctional family and sought for love in the wrong places, and now you have a child out of wedlock. Although you have forgiven yourself, you can’t seem to forgive your parents. The honest truth is that Jesus wants you to forgive anyone who has hurt you.God's grace is aware of your weaknesses. His grace is for when you stand strong and when you stumble. There will never be a mistake greater than His love and plans for you. Click To Tweet
He wants you to show that person the same love that you received from Him. His desire is that you pray for them and not curse them.
In Matthew 18, He narrates the story of the unforgiving servant. This guy owed his master 10,000 talents. In today’s currency, this is about N16m USD. N6bn. I don’t know how he accum theulated this debt but he definitely could not repay it so his master ordered that he and his entire family be thrown into prison. Abashed, he begged for more time to gather the money.( You’re probably wondering how he intended to do that. Same here!) However, in a beautiful twist of fate, the master, moved by compassion, cancelled his debt. Amazing right?
Now as this servant rejoiced home, he met his own servant who owed him 100 pence, equivalent of N16 dollars or N5,000. This servant also pleaded for more time to repay the debt but he would have none of it. Immediately he asked for him to be thrown into prison along side his wife and children.
A lot of us would get angered by the actions of the unforgiving servant without realizing that Jesus was referring to you and I. Jesus says that whenever we choose unforgiveness, we become like this servant. Because in doing so, we fail to extend to others the same grace we received. The disparity between the amounts owed also points to the fact that people’s offenses are nothing compared to our sins, all of which were completely forgiven and erased.
I understand that forgiveness can be very painful. However, when you accepted Jesus, you accepted His Holy Spirit. The Spirit of God empowers you to do things that seem humanly impossible. So if you’re finding it hard to forgive, ask Him for strength. He will help you.
4. Practise Edification
Reminding yourself of what Jesus did for you and who you are in Him is so effective in dealing with guilt. You see, the devil doesn’t let go easily. He will try to feed your with lies but you know the truth, and it is the word of God. Your key to victory is to keep these words in your heart and on your lips.
Another way to edifiy yourself is by praying in the Spirit. Whoosh! This has helped me so many times. It fills you with peace and comfort like nothing else. (Jude 1:20-21)
Keeping your heart fixed on God’s word will help you fight the thoughts that the devil will send your way. You see, when it comes to regrets, your mind is the battlefield. Saturate it with God’s word so that when the lies try to come in, there will be no space to accommodate them
Child of God, you’re not a consistent mistake maker. It is not true that your hobbies are bad decisions. No, that is not who you are.
Let me tell you who you are, You are God’s child. You have been forgiven and God accepts you. God’s plan for your life has not changed regardless of your past.
Always remember that God is the Potter of your life. He is the God of your past, present and future; He is writing a beautiful story with your life and you need to be patient enough to let him do it. Rest in this and live a life of victory, one day at a time.
Written by: Tobi Elegbeleye