By Kara Johnson
“Brothers and sisters: You heard of my former way of life in Judaism, how I persecuted the church of God beyond measure and tried to destroy it…” ~ Galatians 1: 13-24
By this stage of life, there are many things I could look back on and regret. I’ve made decisions that have hurt myself and others. I’ve made choices that, though they seemed right in the moment, clearly could have and should have been made drastically different. The more I study the human condition, though, the more I realize that life will always have an opportunity for regret. There are things we know now; information gained, perspective expanded, understanding emerged that could cause us to look back and cringe at our former selves.
For example, Paul spent the first part of his life, believing with every ounce of his being that what he was doing was the “right” thing to do. This belief changed when he was hit head-on by an encounter with God (v. 16). All of his former thinking, all of his reasons for action, changed in an instant. And, this is what gets me—while I would have probably spent the next—oh, decade or so, rehashing, regretting, and properly beating myself up for all of the many horrible and unspeakable things I did, I’m not sure that he did. While I would have told myself that my past has taken me out of the running for kingdom work and continuously reminded myself that I’m broken, ruined, and marred by a blanket of shame that could never be taken off, Paul didn’t.
Though scripture doesn’t say if he ever struggled with fighting the demons of his past, it does say that he got started on his new mission, and from the looks of things, never looked back.
What if Paul would have let his mistakes define him instead of grasping ahold of the grace of God? What if he would have allowed regret, shame, and doubt tamper with his new mission? It is indeed unfathomable to think about the things that would have been lost to us. Treasures of our faith—lessons, virtues, and beautiful examples would have escaped history. How many millions of people would have missed out on his writings if he would have let the vines of regret and self-doubt choke his mission?
Are you allowing anything in your past to dampen the future? Bad choices exist as do poor planning, mistakes, and crummy outcomes happen. That doesn’t stop God, though, because He is outside of time, and because He sees you through the lens of His plans and His grace, each day has a reset button that can take it all and turn it into something beautiful. I like to call this my “pock marked perfection.” Denying our past won’t help, but truly grasping forgiveness and giving every misshapen element over to God can allow the unique texture of our lives to shape the world!
Today, I urge you, dear one, to catch any regrets and to notice thoughts and feelings still anchored by mistakes and misguided thinking of the past. Allow God to take those weights from your shoulders and let the future be only defined by the promises and prospects of His plans for you!
Go forth in the freedom of Christ!
About the Author:
Kara Johnson lives in Idaho, is a Catholic convert, wife, and homeschooling mom of three. She is the co-founder of www.MamaTools.com and loves to encourage Catholic women to fully embrace their beauty and vocation! She’s been featured in various publications including Chicken Soup for the Soul.
Amen to your heartfelt commentary! I’ve learned in my older age, that shame says I am bad. The true principle that is inherent in our God given nature is guilt, which says I did something wrong and is 100% perfectly normal. But when guilt turns into shame, that is when I need to turn to the Lord , go to confession and get back on track with moving forward in my life, carrying the word of God and doing the work of God in whatever way I can in my daily life. God’s blessings, Chris, Huntsville, Alabama