How to stop beating yourself up after you make a mistake
After I bought Groupon tickets for our family to see Odd Squad Live, trouble set in. The tickets were for the right show, but they were in the wrong city… a city five hours away. This was a costly mistake.
I panicked. My stomach turned into knots. I called Groupon for a refund, but they said no. I texted a friend who lived in that city—maybe they’d want to buy the tickets? Again, no.
As I prepared to go on a walk I had planned, I wondered if I deserved to do something I enjoy after I’d messed it all up.
My reaction to this honest mistake reminded me of how I react to my sin.
Mistakes and sin shed light on my deep-down beliefs.
I believe these three statements until something proves me wrong:
- I’m perfect.
- I can work my way out of any situation.
- When sin and mistakes remind me I’m not perfect, I shame myself into believing that I don’t deserve good things.
And through this Groupon debacle, God’s been able to speak directly to these false beliefs. Here’s what He’s been teaching me so I’m not beating myself up for making mistakes:
God is not surprised by my imperfections.
I’m always surprised when I mess up because most days I get it right. the kids are picked up, everyone has clean clothes, the blog publishes on time, the correct tickets are purchased…
Until I get it wrong.
God is not surprised by my mistakes, imperfections, and sin. Only He is perfect, which is why He extends me grace.
God doesn’t expect me to solve my mistakes on my own.
In the prodigal son story, the son realizes that his dad’s hired hands eat better than he does, so he devises a plan. He’ll go back, confess to his dad, and ask to be made a servant instead of a son.
How often do I do this? After I make a mistake or sin, I devise a do-more, try-harder strategy to get back into God’s good graces.
My Groupon strategy involved a call to figure it out myself. At other times, my plan is to work more, try harder, set higher goals, or clamp down on whatever tripped me up. Because if I’m in the wrong, clearly the issue is effort, right?
Clearly the solution is grace.
My absolute favorite part of the prodigal son story is that the dad looks for his son, sees him, and throws his arms around him. The dad is preoccupied with getting his son restored to his rightful position.
The goal was restored relationship.
What was true for the prodigal son is true for us today. We are not responsible and cannot possibly clean up our sins and mistakes. We have a Heavenly Father who’s already washed us clean, and it’s time we started living as if that’s true.
God gave me life as a gift to enjoy.
When I mess up, I want to punish myself. The day I made the Groupon mistake, I wanted to cancel the walk I planned to take. I believe that I should pay the price for my mistakes.
But He’s already paid the price.
I just need to accept the truth that says:
There’s no condemnation in Christ. Jesus paid it all. Nothing can wash away my sins but His blood. My sins, not in part but the whole, are nailed to the cross, and I bear them no more. God’s gift to me is eternal life, “an entirely new quality of life that begins now and never ends.” (Bible Study Fellowship’s John Lesson #12)
I don’t have to punish myself and deny the lovely gifts God gives me just because I mess up. I’m not worthy of a joyful life because I live a mistake-free existence but because I’m God’s kid.
Trouble sets in, not when I make a mistake, but when I operate out of false beliefs.
I’m allowed to make mistakes, and I will sin. But instead of operating from lies about my perfection, my try-hard methods, and my shame, I now operate out of truth.
My Groupon mistake taught me that I don’t have to beat myself up for making a mistake. I know I’m not perfect, God’s paid the price, and He loves it when I enjoy His gifts. I’m God’s girl and one in whom He delights. Goupon mistakes and all.