How many mistakes do you make in one day?
When those mistakes happen, how do you respond?
Too often, I waste time listening to the enemy of my soul and letting him harness me with guilt, shame, and verbal onslaughts of stupid, idiot, failure, and more. Can you relate?
In those moments, I exchanged unforgiveness wrapped in the lie of failure for freedom.
In the previous blog, we broached the concept of free to be. Galatians 5:1 says, “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.”
What does that mean?
The late pastor and Bible teacher Eugene Peterson translated the verse this way: “Christ has set us free to live a free life. So take your stand! Never again let anyone put a harness of slavery on you.”
Attempting to help others understand the Bible, he used phrasing and words that were more common to our lives when he worked on The MESSAGE.
How does unforgiveness inhibit you from being free to be forgiven?
One way the devil keeps us firmly in his grip is to keep us trapped in our mistakes. To be human is to make mistakes. Yet the lie around each mistake is that whatever you did or didn’t do can’t be forgiven. When you screw up like that, you can’t possibly be a follower of Jesus. If you truly loved Jesus, you wouldn’t do that kind of stuff.
So look at your stuff.
Step 1: What do you struggle with routinely?
Take a moment and jot down all the things you struggle with—bad temper, biting your nails, overeating, gossip, forgetting to call your mom regularly, not listening well during a conversation, watching porn, exercising regularly, finishing projects, reading your Bible daily, praying, too emotional, alcohol, etc. Now look at your list and pick one struggle you’d like to eliminate.
Some of these struggles are simply habits we’ve developed and need to change.
How do you change a habit?
In this article from Healthline.com, understand that habits form using the 3 R’s: Reminder (the trigger that engages the habit), Routine (the behavior associated with the habit), and Reward (makes the habit stick due to the dopamine release). When you practice a good habit, such as washing your hands after using the bathroom, this dopamine hit reinforces good behavior.
But in the case of negative behaviors like in your struggle list, the 3 R’s perpetuate the problem. To break them, the Healthline article lists fifteen tips to help break that nagging struggle. Here’s a quick overview of the article:
- Know your triggers: what engages the struggle
- Ask why: the big motivation to change
- Enlist a friend: you need a safe person to support your efforts to change
- Be mindful: notice how your thoughts, feelings, and actions respond to the trigger
- Swap habits: when you feel nervous, go for a quick walk instead of eating that candy bar
- Make reminders: put a sticky note in key locations with the why behind your desire to break the struggle
- Prepare for slip-ups: they happen. Give yourself grace and learn from them
- Don’t ignore progress: celebrate the small victories, all of them
- Start small: pick one struggle you want to change rather than all of them
- Change your space: don’t buy your favorite candy bars
- Visualize: use your mind to imagine life without this struggle
- Practice self-care: take care of yourself by getting enough sleep, for instance
- Reward yourself: small congratulatory words lift your spirits, maybe even a small gift
- Be patient: breaking the habit takes continual choices and changes; give it time
- Get support: get professional help for deeply ingrained struggles
Step 2: Look at your struggle list. Next to each one, write the word forgiven. The Bible tells us that God
God does this because he loves you. You are forgiven by God.
Step 3: It’s time to forgive yourself, exchanging personal unforgiveness for freedom.
Honestly, that may be the hardest part of understanding you are free to be forgiven. No matter what you’ve done or not done, said or not said, thought or not thought, you are forgiven.
To be free to be forgiven, it’s time to forgive yourself and accept how God sees you—forgiven because of what Jesus did for you.
Maybe this prayer will help you forgive yourself:
God, I know I screwed up. Today I [fill in the blank with your mistake]. Please forgive me. I choose to believe in your forgiveness. Please help me forgive myself. I confess this sin to you and accept your promise to forgive me. When the enemy of my soul tells me I’m no good or can’t be a good follower of Jesus, I choose to believe you instead. You will bring about your work in me because I love, trust, and submit to you today. You don’t expect me to be perfect, just honest, humble, and willing to change. Thank you, God, for your forgiveness. Amen.