I hate screwing up. The only thing worse than screwing up is screwing up again and again. I especially hate the idea that I’m doomed to repeat the past. But there are certain paths I start down that lead to predictable destinations. There are audio tracks in my head that play as if on repeat. Take that first step, give in to that habit, adopt that attitude, make that ‘favorite’ remark… before I know it I’m back where I don’t want to go.
Having recently fallen down again and doing what I can to try and stand back up, I thought I’d share some of the lessons I’m trying to teach myself.
1) Stop it before it starts. With habits and addictions there seems to be a point of no return where you really are powerless to stop what you’re doing. Don’t let it get to that point. Have a plan and involve someone else in your plan. I’ve made an agreement to pick up the phone and call a friend before things get out of control.
2) Make it right. If possible, do what you can do to make amends for what you did wrong.
3) Train your brain. Changing your stripes is a very hard thing to do. I’m trying to make new connections in my brain, paving new neural pathways — and that takes work. It doesn’t happen easily or accidentally.
4) Celebrate your success. Often I am harder on myself than anyone else. Feeling down about my lack of progress can start a vicious cycle that leads to more failure. Instead, thank God for each and every day of grace and victory.
5) Be kind to yourself. Forgiving myself is the hardest thing I’ve ever tried to do. To be honest I still don’t think I’m doing it right. Forgiving yourself takes courage because it means you have to admit you’re not perfect. It’s a chance to grow in humility. It’s a chance to better understand God’s grace and it gives you more to be thankful for.
6) Forget the past. You can’t undo what’s been done. To keep from tripping up again – look where you’re going, not where you’ve been.
7) Don’t make excuses for what happened. Making excuses is a way of avoiding the truth that I did wrong. Making excuses is a way of making the wrong an easier thing to repeat.
8} Say you’re sorry and then let it go. Repeatedly bringing up the wrong I did to the people I wronged is a trap that keeps me stuck in my sin. It also hurts them.
9) Resist the urge to punish yourself. Injustice cries out – even in our own hearts. The penalty for our sins has been paid in full by the sacrifice of Christ. Don’t insult the gift or cheapen His grace by superficial attempts at self-atonement.
10) Be humble. True humility is seeing ourselves as we really are: sinners who are cherished by God and forgiven.
Thanks for reading – I hope you all had a great Christmas and may God be gracious with all of us!