Ashamed of your past? God doesn't want you to keep punishing yourself
Are you ashamed of something you did in your past, even recently?
You should know that this feeling is common. Most of us have done things we regret. If we could, we'd like to go back and change parts of our life.
There's a basic problem with this attitude, though: It causes us to underestimate God.
We cannot go back and change the past. Even God can't do that. But with God's help, we can change how we see past events.
Living life in forward gear
Revisiting wrongs you did in the past is like trying to drive somewhere but never taking your car out of Reverse. You can't make any forward progress.
Some things we did in the past hurt other people. Some things hurt only ourselves. Sometimes they hurt us and lots of other people around us, and those are the most painful regrets of all.
But a life that constantly dwells on the past is not a productive life. It's a stuck life. It's a life that tries to right wrongs with self-punishment, and that never works.
Ask forgiveness then move on
It's hard to ask other people to forgive us when we've hurt them, but usually that's the only way to move on. If we apologize and they refuse to forgive us, then the responsibility shifts from us to them. We've done all we can.
You should know that some people withhold their forgiveness, as a way of getting even. But that hurts them, like a sore that never heals.
Maybe it's too late to apologize for something you're ashamed of, or the other person has died, or it would only make things worse. That happens, and there's not much we can do about it.
First things first
When you're ashamed of something, usually there's a reason. Your conscience is telling you that you did wrong. If you're a Christian, you know you've broken God's Commandments. What's true, though, is that none of us can keep the Ten Commandments flawlessly. That's why we need a Savior.
The first step is to go to God and ask him for forgiveness. Rest assured that he will always forgive you, no matter what. Time after time the Bible tells us that God is a forgiving God, and a God who wants to restore your friendship with him.
The more you know about God's character, the better you'll understand his desire to forgive you. If you're having trouble believing that God can forgive you, read these words of Jesus, when he was telling the parable of the Prodigal Son:
That is exactly how God feels about you!
An equally important step
After you've told God what you're ashamed of and received his forgiveness, then you must forgive yourself. Often that's harder than it sounds, but it is possible if you keep in mind that the Being who controls the universe has already forgiven you.
You'll be tempted to keep bringing the event up. You'll be tempted to doubt God's forgiveness. And most of all, you'll be tempted to keep humiliating yourself over that past event. But if God forgives you, you're free. He requires nothing more of you, other than that you forgive yourself.
God, your wise and loving Father, holds nothing more against you.
Satan, on the other hand, wants to trap you in your past. He knows that if you live there, you won't be able to live in the present. You'll keep beating yourself up, imposing an unnecessary sentence for a crime God has completely pardoned.
Jesus took the punishment for your sins--past, present and future. That was a one-time event. Done. Over.
A future to look foward to
Once God has forgiven you for something you were ashamed of, it's time to move on to the renewed life he has in store for you.
We all stumble. Sometimes we fall and have trouble getting up. The Holy Spirit helps us up every time. We just can't live the Christian life without him.
God doesn't want you to be constantly ashamed of your past. He offers you a way to be healed and move on to happiness and wholeness. I hope that today, right now, you'll take it.