I’ve done a lot of stupid things in my life. And when those memories come up, I feel stupid, again.
I used to get caught up in the guilt and shame of those memories and allow them to drag me down into feeling worthless. This led me to question everything I’d done and wonder if I was capable of doing anything right.
But then I found I John 1:9 and learned that I can stand on God’s Word to let go of the guilt and shame and move forward in peace.
I John 1:9
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.
Some of the stupid things I’ve done aren’t sin, in themselves. Quitting a good job because I felt I deserved something better was not sin. But it was still foolish and it still had consequences.
Other things were sin and have had even greater consequences. Selfish and codependent parenting when my son was young has hurt us both in ways that we’re still dealing with today.
Whatever it was, my mind latches on and replays it over and over. Then I start remembering every other time I did something stupid. Then I think about all the consequences of all those things. And so on…
This kind of rumination is a typical symptom of depression and anxiety, and often plays a part in PTSD and OCD.
So how do I stop it? I interrupt the cyclical thoughts with God’s Word.
Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.
The pattern of this world is to worry. Worry is fear-based and has been part of mankind since Adam was afraid that God would see He was naked.
But God tells us, through His Word, that there is a way to break ourselves out of this pattern. We can allow His Word to renew our minds.
For me, I John 1:9 is the first line of defense when I’m fighting guilt and shame from past actions. It’s a step-by-step process to freedom.
First, I confess my sin. I bring it to His throne and lay it at His feet.
Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.
Then, I ask Jesus to forgive me of that sin and cover it with His blood of redemption.
And by that will, we have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.
Finally, I stand in faith on God’s Word and believe that I have been forgiven. “He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins.” I choose to believe that if He said it in His Word, then it’s true. I have confessed and asked for forgiveness. Therefore, He has forgiven me – regardless of whether I feel like it or not.
II Corinthians 5:7
For we live by faith, not by sight.
But it doesn’t stop there. The last part of I John 1:9 tells me that He will, “purify us from all unrighteousness.”
This means that He puts me back in right standing with God. Because my sin has been covered by the blood of Jesus, it can’t keep me from being seated in the heavenly realms with Christ Jesus. (Eph. 2:6)
But it also means that He is doing the work to purify me from all the unrighteousness in me that causes me to sin in the first place. That’s the process of sanctification. And we cooperate with this process by continually bringing our sin to Him in repentance.
How does all this stop me from ruminating?
Once I have dealt with the thing through confession and repentance, I remind myself that guilt and shame are unnecessary.
I basically tell my mind to drop that thought, because it’s already covered by the blood of Jesus. I don’t always have the power, in myself, to stop these thoughts. But when I confront them in the authority of the name of Jesus, they have to stop.
II Corinthians 10:5
We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.
It’s not easy. It’s sometimes a huge battle. And when I fight that battle in my own strength, I lose. But when I stand on God’s Word, His truth wins. And my mind takes another step toward peace.
How has God’s Word helped you let go of guilt and shame?
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