I yelled at my kids on Monday. After all, Mondays are prone to bad moods.
Yet, I don’t make a habit of yelling at people in public, but in private with my children this has become too commonplace. I was angry that they wouldn’t listen to their father’s good instruction. Perhaps I place too much emphasis on “good,” more than likely I just wanted them to do what I said, to obey me. So I made the wise choice: I yelled. And now days later, I regret my actions. I wish I had been calm and collected and responded sensibly instead of with full-froth emotion.
I have regrets. You have similar stories of regret too. But it’s not so much the regret itself that trips us up going forward. It’s how we lean into our regrets. We are ashamed of our action and become people who live in shame. We beat ourselves up over what we did. It lives with us and haunts us in our daily moments. How could I have been so foolish in losing my temper?
It’s not as if we don’t know we are flawed. We are all sinners (Romans 3:23). We all have a tendency within us to think that we are in charge and should be our own authority. That’s God’s place alone. But in my “authority,” I rejected God’s design for right fathering—tender and soft spoken words of care and wisdom. My desire to be in control and obeyed showed itself in an overflow of my own sin-filled ugliness, yelling. Now I feel shame.
Moving Forward: Confession
How do we move forward when we have let ourselves down? When like Paul in Romans 7, we want to do the good and right thing, but we keep failing not only God but ourselves. A part of us wants to follow God’s will and a part of us wants to follow our sinful will. We’re like a split person. How do we move forward with this divided will? We confess the wrong and rest in God’s forgiveness.
There is no way we can move forward if the disappointment in ourselves festers to the point of self-loathing. We must remind ourselves that Jesus doesn’t hate us. He loves us. He died to give us life free from disappointment and disgust. He forgives sin.
So when we mess up we fess up to Jesus and find that He welcomes us not with contempt, but forgiveness. Confession is critical, for
“If we confess our sins, [Jesus] is faithful and just to forgive us our sins” (1 John 1:9)
We must first declare that the sinful action we are ashamed of was wrong. Not only did it hurt others, it hurt us. We did damage to our character and the person God wants us to be. So we humbly confess our wrong. But the regret doesn’t end here.
Because of Jesus, the sin we commit does not end in shame and regret. It meets the forgiveness of God for us in Jesus. Your sin and shame crashes into the cross. There it falls dead, covered in the grace of God. There at the foot of the cross, your sin is forgiven. Therefore we can know that we need not feel shame any longer. We have confessed and Jesus is ready to forgive. Yes your view of yourself matters, but no one’s view matters more than God’s view of you.
And you value to God. He loves you. He does not want you to cling to shame and regret. Far from it! The cross is meant to free you from shame, to cause you instead today to rest in the forgiveness of Jesus. By faith, He has given you forgiveness. You are forgiven. Preach this to yourself daily. Satan wants to knock you over the head with your shame, Jesus wants to free you from it.
Yes, we will fail again and let ourselves down. But the good news is that Jesus is not done with us. He wants our sorrow to turn to gladness. He loves taking regret and turning it into a heart filled with gladness that we are forgiven. A gladness in fact that He is making us new, into a person who wants to speak tenderly instead of yell. A person who can like themselves. A person who knows that shame is not the end, grace and forgiveness in Jesus is the wonder-filled end.
There is rest from our sin in the cross of Jesus. Charles Spurgeon would encourage us today:
“My transgressions and short-comings present me with a list of accusations, but I thank [God] that they will not stand against me, for they have all been laid on Christ.”
Of what are you ashamed that has already been laid on Christ and forgiven? Rest in the forgiveness of Jesus today.