We all make mistakes. Some are big and some are small. Some we can easily forget while others haunt us much longer than they should. We know we need to forgive others’ mistakes that impact us, but how well do we forgive ourselves?
Our free will gives us the ability to choose, but our fallen human nature means that we won’t always make the correct decision. Some mistakes result in sin, while others are just merely mistakes with no significant impact. Hopefully we will always be able to learn something from the mistakes we make. A mistake is an event in time; you cannot go back to change it. You may be able to correct it after the mistake is made — or perhaps make amends for any damage done. Unless someone actually invents a time machine, you cannot go back and change your action. You have to live with your mistakes: major and minor, catastrophic and insignificant.
For those mistakes that we have trouble recovering from, we need to reach out to God for assistance. God has written the book on forgiveness; it is the Bible. From the beginning, man has offended God and God has forgiven him. He takes the mistakes man makes and weaves an amazing story. Even with the mistakes that David made, God turned him into the greatest king Israel had ever seen. Through his descendants, God brings His own Son, Jesus, into the world as our Savior. We may never see or know the good that God has been able to achieve by the mistakes we make, but we need to trust that He can make something beautiful out of them.
Rather than getting stuck in the moment when we realize our mistake, we must offer it up to God and ask Him to help correct it. The road may be bumpy while God is working, and His timing is rarely our timing, but God will not abandon us in our discomfort. He is walking right beside us, holding our hand through it all. To remain in misery because of a mistake is to turn away from God. He will help us to forgive ourselves, if we allow Him.
Although I was trying not to pay attention to the TVs in the gym while I was working out, I couldn’t help but notice some scenes from the Bruce Willis movie, the only non-sport choice running that day. The closed caption option for the programs was turned on and I was able to understand a bit of the movie. The scene that got me thinking was an exchange where the villain chided the hero for losing his temper during a phone call.
My temper has gotten the best of me more times that I care to admit. Sometimes I’ve excused it, explaining it as being passionate about the topic at hand. But when you pause and think about it, losing one’s temper is basically getting frustrated at the inability to control a situation, to communicate our point of view so that another can understand it, or to have the events unfold the way we want them. It harkens back to the temptation of the serpent to Eve, if she ate the fruit, she would be like a god. Who doesn’t want to be able to know and control events and situations? The only thing we have control over, is our reaction, and even then it is a struggle.
We may wonder why God allows these occurrences to happen, especially if they will tempt us to react in a way that causes us to sin. But as long as there is free will, people will be able to make choices that affect us in ways that provoke our temper. These are valuable opportunities to learn what triggers our buttons, so that when we realize we are starting to build up steam, we can ask God for guidance and help. After all, He is the one in control. He may ask us to be humble and open in the situation. Other times He may ask us to be gentle and merciful in our correction of another. In all our responses, we need to express the love that God has shown us.
Some situations may be easier than others, but God is giving us a lifetime of opportunities to practice, along with His grace and mercy when we fail to hold our temper. Just because we get it wrong sometimes, is not a reason to give up, just a reason to try harder next time.