I read an interesting chapter of a book the other day about getting stuck in our mistakes, and how many of us have one or two past mistakes that we get stuck in. They start defining our lives and we see ourselves through that lens.
For me, the big one was: Divorce.
Never in my dreams did I imagine being divorced, and even though my marriage was quickly annulled by the Church, for years it felt like a badge of dishonor written on my forehead.
I made a mistake. That relationship was not God’s will for my life and I missed the many signs along the way which were telling me that, even the big one of becoming ill with the flu on my wedding day! Clearly, I was stubborn and following my own will, and forever I am stuck with the history of a failed relationship.
The people around us sometimes don’t help us get unstuck. I’ve had people incessantly question that mistake in my life. What went wrong? What’s your story? Why did it happen? They ask probing questions as if to judge me as right or wrong for it happening and determining if I am worthy of a relationship with them.
But God is not like that. Through confronting my mistakes, God did His work in me, continually speaking words of affirmation to me and stirring in me the belief that I was loved and chosen despite regret. God still cared for me, blessed me, and guided me in the midst of the despair and regret of those mistakes. He helped me move past them.
When I look back, the real punishment for my bigger mistakes was inflicted by me and not by God. I didn’t let go of the burdens of guilt that my mind was carrying for a long time. God proved to be the Merciful One. He always is. More often, we need to show mercy to ourselves.
What sin or mistake are you still defining yourself by? Is it still influencing your life? How is God trying to work through this and bring you to greater healing, freedom, new life, and possibilities? What is your experience of Him as the Merciful One, and can it teach you to be more merciful with yourself?