This past weekend my friends and family helped me celebrate my 25th birthday with a surprise party. It was awesome! At one point during the party they allowed people to come up and share their acknowledgements and kind words. I was so taken aback by what people had to say about me…things that you would never think they would say. It was very touching.
After the party had ended, me and a few other people decided that we would go to a nearby bar/restaurant to just hang out since we weren’t ready for the night to end. Now, for those of you who know me or have read this post you may be thinking, why did she go to a bar? Wasn’t that a struggle of hers? I know, I know…and yes it was. I honestly had no intention of drinking at all but, for some reason, the fact that the people around me were doing it, it was my birthday, and I didn’t have to pay for it made me want to. The whole time I was there I was having this internal battle thinking about what would happen if I did do drink. What would people think? Would someone see me? What should I do? I even thought about the party that I had just came from and how people had all this good stuff to say about me. I didn’t want to be a let down to them or give them any reason to revoke what was said. Not only that, I didn’t want to be a misrepresentation of God. I didn’t want someone to see me or even the people I was with to see me and think that because Crystal did this, it must be okay to do. The Holy Spirit’s conviction in me was strong but the flesh in me was stronger.
Unfortunately, after about a 15 minute internal struggle, I ended up having two Amaretto sours. They were two baby drinks and I did not get drunk but they were drinks nonetheless; drinks that I drank easily after about three years of not drinking. Afterwards I felt HORRIBLE. I felt like a failure and a hypocrite. I thought to myself, “You just came from a party where people prided you on your faith and your convictions and then you pull this? SERIOUSLY?!” Later on, I cried to one of my friends about it and then cried to God about it. I then wrestled with whether I should even share this or not for fear of being judged or condemned but I feel like it would not only help myself, but help someone else who may be dealing with the same struggle or is just struggling in a particular area in general.
This incident showed me that although we as Christians strive for perfection, we are an imperfect people. Ultimately, we are human and things happen. Now, I am in no way making light of the situation or condoning the behavior but it is the truth. As much as we would like to, we do not always get it right and it sucks when you don’t. You may feel stupid, regretful, upset, disappointed, sad, mad and a number of other ways (I certainly did) but instead of letting it hinder you, use it as a learning experience. Don’t let it keep you down forever. Here are a few things that I’ve learned from this situation:
1. Conviction, yes…Condemnation, no.
There is a difference between conviction and condemnation. When you feel convicted, it is because you have a strong belief about something and the incident or action that occurred goes against that belief. This is what causes you to feel bad after you have done something that you know was not right. There is nothing wrong with conviction. The issue comes, however, when you condemn yourself for doing something you feel is wrong. I like the definitions they give for condemnation on dictionary.com: to pronounce to be guilty, to sentence to punishment, to judge or pronounce to be unfit for use or service. Isn’t that what we do? I know for me, after I had those drinks I felt like I was a no-good filth meister and that the world was over. I thought that God would no longer get the glory from my life and that what everyone had just said about me at my party was no longer valid. This was so not the case and I’m sure that’s what the enemy wanted me to think. There is a difference between feeling bad for what you did and beating yourself up for doing it. Which leads me to my next point…
2. Give it to God and keep it moving.
I know that sounds a lot easier to say than to do…and it is. Instead of getting over the sin we committed and continuing on with our lives, we like to dwell on things and replay the incident until we beat ourselves to death with what we did. That is not what God wants for us. In His mind He is probably thinking, “Okay son/daughter, I know this got you down and threw you off track but we can’t stay here. I have more for you to do and you dwelling on this is taking away from what else I have for you.” This is not to make light of what has happened but the reality of the situation is that it happened, you can’t change it, God still loves you and forgives you, now lets progress. There is more for you beyond your mistake/setback and even though it feels tragic it is not the end of the world. When you do sin, go to God in prayer and ask for His forgiveness. First John 1:9 (NIV) says, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” Give it to Him. If you need to cry (like I did) do so but after you do it, leave it where you left it and move forward. There is life beyond your mistake. Cheer up buttercup And lastly…
3. Tell somebody.
After giving it to God be sure to share with somebody what has happened, preferably an accountability partner or someone that you trust who won’t judge you or make you feel worse than you already do. I know a lot of times when we do something that we shouldn’t we want to keep it to ourselves but I highly recommend not doing so. Telling someone is not only freeing but beneficial in that you’re no longer holding in some “deep dark secret” and the person helps to lighten the burden that you are carrying. They don’t condone the behavior but they don’t condemn you either. They can provide good advice, a listening ear, and even pray for you. They are the support you need when you can’t support yourself. (that sounds so cheesy but you know what I mean…LOL)
Messing up sucks…like, really sucks but it is not the end. Your one mistake doesn’t change who you are nor who you’ve been or who you’re going to be. It doesn’t stop what God can and will do in your life. You’re not useless because you made a mistake. Cry if you need to, give it to God, ask for forgiveness, learn from it and progress.
The Lord is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love. He will not always accuse, nor will he harbor his anger forever; he does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities. For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.