I rejoice therefore that I have confidence in you in all things.
2 Corinthians 7:16
A friend reminded me something tonight which I have been told over and over again through the course of my life, which is something I have a difficult time accepting. “Everything happens for a reason.” Every thing we say, everything we do, everything that is said to us, everything that is done to us, everything that occurs outside of ourselves, it has purpose. Often that purpose is greater than ourselves, much greater than we can understand.
This is the hardest to accept when we know we’ve done wrong, when our actions, our words, have cut deeply into others and brought them pain and suffering. And when we make these mistakes, it’s the easy thing to do to run away, to justify our actions, to pretend what we did wasn’t wrong. However when we remove the wood from our own eye, when we let go of our blindness just for one second to allow ourselves to see without prejudice, something deep inside is still able to recognize right from wrong, wrong from right.
Recognizing a mistake I’ve made is incredibly painful. It often forces me to realize with it other mistakes I’ve similarly made. It’s hard to accept we aren’t perfect and that we are just like anyone else on this planet: human. It’s hard to understand that some things I’ve done aren’t completely fixable, and no matter what I do I can’t make my actions go away or heal the scars.
And from mistakes I’ve made, especially recently, I’ve come to understand a number of things.
1. Our actions have a reason: the good, but especially the bad. God takes everything we do and transforms it into a purpose of his own. We have to open ourselves to letting God work his magic. When we make mistakes, we have to own it, do whatever we can to fix it, but ultimately let God handle it.
2. When we hurt others and recognize our mistakes, we also need to heal. Though our pain perhaps isn’t equal to the pain we’ve caused, what we are feeling is also raw and also constitutes pain. Time and prayer works wonders.
3. In moving on from our mistakes, we have to forgive ourselves. It goes without saying that we have to forgive those who have hurt us, but when we make mistakes we hold it in for a long time and let it eat away at our gut. It doesn’t do anyone, even the person or people we’ve hurt, if we hold our regret and pain inside.
4. We have to let our mistakes transform us. If we just try to fix it and cover it up, we keep making those mistakes over and over. In owning our mistakes, forgiving ourselves, and instilling within ourselves a desire to never let it happen again, we grow as people.
5. It’s important to let ourselves be forgiven. When forgiveness is offered and the opportunity for repentance extended, we have to take it. When we let ourselves be forgiven, we allow change, God’s change to take place within our hearts and in the lives of those around us.
We make mistakes for a reason. These reasons inspire change. Smile then, because trusting in God and each other allows us to move on from our mistake and let our mistakes and God change us.
To those whom I’ve hurt: I’m truly sorry. Your pain is echoed in my own heart. As you heal, please know I’m hurting for you in the process of someday forgiving myself.