Tag Archives: regret

Forgiven: How Guilt Can Block God’s Forgiveness

Forgiven, that’s what we all want: to be forgiven…by God, by others, by ourselves. The following is an excerpt from by latest book: Starting Over…finding God’s forgiveness when you find it hard to forgive yourself.

Meet Steveforgiven

Let me tell you about Steve. Steve has a drinking problem, but he never saw it coming. He got started drinking heavily in college with his buddies. He thought after college that things would change, but he found that old habits die hard. Steve realized that he didn’t have the self-control he thought he had.

How would your life change if you knew that you were completely forgiven and accepted unconditionally?

When Steve’s friends invited him to the bar, he always said yes. And when they encouraged him to have one more, he never said no. After the third drink he lost count. He knew it wasn’t right but thought, “Hey, I’m not hurting anyone.” He was just having a good time.

In his honest moments, Steve knew that he was hurting someone. He was hurting himself because his drinking hurt his health. It hurt his relationships. It hurt his job performance. It also hurt his relationship with God.

Steve’s excessive drinking made him feel guilty. But things had gotten out of control, and he didn’t know how to get back on track. Like I said: he never planned his life to be this way. One thing just led to another.

When God is the Problem

Interestingly enough, Steve’s faith in God was actually a part of the problem. He felt so ashamed of his failure that he drank more trying to cover his guilt. It was a vicious cycle. The more he drank the guiltier he felt. The guiltier he felt the more he drank. He never dreamed of being forgiven.

After a while, Steve stopped feeling guilty. He grew numb. He just accepted that he was a drinker and resigned himself to a life without God. It wasn’t what he wanted, but it was better than feeling guilty all the time.

Steve’s story describes many people I’ve talked to over the years. Just change the name, and the addiction, and Steve might be someone you know. Steve might even be you. Instead of a drinking problem it might be a problem with food, pornography, gambling, shopping, anger, or any number of things.

Guilt: The Roadblock to Being Forgiven

What often keeps us from getting the help we need is guilt. We are so ashamed of what we’ve done that we push God away, assuming he wants nothing to do with us. But in doing that, we push away our greatest help.

What if Steve could live a life free from guilt? How do you think Steve’s life would change if he knew that he was completely forgiven, and God accepted him unconditionally, just the way he was… warts, addiction, and all?

More importantly, how would your life change if you knew that you were completely forgiven and accepted unconditionally?

I’m not talking about being free from all guilt. Some guilt is good…I’m talking about the false guilt that lingers and often turns to shame. I’m talking about the feeling that weighs on you and makes you want to avoid anything remotely associated with God, because you are convinced of his disgust for you.

True guilt has a short shelf life, that is: once guilt serves its purpose in getting you to see your wrong, it starts to spoil. It’s like soured milk: guilt turns from being helpful to being hurtful. But many people keep drinking the “sour milk” of guilt thinking it’s the right thing to do… even the godly thing to do. They just assume that all guilt is from God and so they embrace it. Big mistake.

The truth is that God wants you to move from guilt to grace as quickly as possible. Put your past behind you and start building your new regret-free life. Live forgiven. [adapted from chapter nine from Starting Over: The Problem of Guilt.]

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Let God Define Your Identity

Too often we let our failures define us. We let our bad experiences tell us who we are. But Isaiah reminds us that God is the one who should define our true identity: 

Too often we let our failures define us. We let our bad experiences tell us who we are. 

The nations will see your righteousness. Kings will be blinded by your glory. And the LORD will give you a new name. The LORD will hold you in his hands for all to see — a splendid crown in the hands of God. Never again will you be called the Forsaken or Desolate. Your new name will be My Delight and My Bride, for the LORD delights in you and will claim you as his own. Isaiah 62:2-4

Isaiah said that when they looked in the mirror, the name stamped on their forehead was: “Forsaken” or “Desolate.” Maybe you’ve seen those same names written on your forehead. But God says:

No, that’s not how I want you to see yourself. I’m giving you a new nickname: My Delight, My Bride. I’m going to restore your glory and so you need to look in the mirror and see what I see.

Start living out of this reality and see if things don’t change for you.

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Top Five Posts on readingremy.com

I haven’t done a Top Five list for a while. I thought you might like to see what tops the reading list.

Here are the top five posts on readingremy.com from the past three months.

  1. shame

    from readingremy.com

    Forgiving Yourself: Consider the Lie

  2. What Does the Bible Say About Shame?
  3. Regret-Proof Your Life with Better Decisions
  4. The Spiritual Implications of Brene Brown’s TED Talk on Vulnerability
  5. Ten Ways Denial Numbs the Pain of Shame

Would you share this post on Facebook to expose others to these posts? Thanks!

If you are a subscriber to this blog, have you requested the free STUCK sampler?  It’s a preview of my new book “STUCK…how to mend and move on from broken relationships“. Just leave a comment below and I’ll send it right off.

Here’s what a recent reviewer of STUCK said about the book…

STUCK is a very well written and helpful resource that will help many people. God has gifted Remy with the ability to synthesize his life experiences, what he’s read and seen and put them all into an easy to read and understandable work on a very difficult and challenging topic. 

If you aren’t a subscriber, subscribe and you’ll get the STUCK sampler too!

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Regret Proof Your Life With Better Decisions

Regret Proof Your Life

Regret Proof Your Life – Be Present

Good decisions are hard to come by.  I often meet people after they’ve made a bad decision.  I’ve learned about regret by talking to hundreds of people who regret their past.

Occasionally people come to see me BEFORE the decision.  They realize the weight of the situation at hand and want all the input they can get. Wise people.

I’ve made my share of bad decisions but  I made a good one last week…to drop everything to visit my siblings after my mother’s death (the memorial is not for a month).  It required leaving work for two days (I’m already buried in work after being gone for two weeks) but it was the right thing to do. It was very important for my family’s grieving process. If I hadn’t done that I would have regretted it in the future.

That decision got me thinking about regret and decision-making in general. There are some decisions that you can wait on. But other decisions require your full attention and the ability to act on them before the window of opportunity closes. How you respond in that moment determines if you will be celebrating or kicking yourself later on.

Given those two polar opposites here are seven ideas to help you regret proof your life.

Seven Keys to Regret Proof Your Life

  1. Be present. This means to clue into THIS moment mentally and not be thinking about your past or your future. THIS MOMENT requires your attention if you want to have a good future and a no regret past.  There is a quote in the Bible that says that the men of Issachar were wise because they understood their times.  They knew what to do because they were tuned into the moment. It’s important to discern when opportunities or threats need your attention and take action.
  2. Anticipate. To help you be present it’s important to identify those moments in advance so they don’t catch you by surprise. I find it helpful to take time to be quiet, reflect and pray asking God to show me those moments that need my attention.  A few years ago I recognized that my mom was slowing slipping away. I decided to visit her more and be ready to drop everything so I could be near her in the end. That’s what happened and I have great memories now of my mom in her last days. Anticipate these key moments in your life and the lives of your loved ones so you can be there and say the right thing in the moment.
  3. Ask yourself…will I ever have this moment again? Some opportunities only come once.  When that reality hits your radar you need to sit up and take note. It’s not time to hesitate. It’s not time to procrastinate. I only have one opportunity to grieve my mother. I will either do it well or not. If I’m not cued into the NOW then I will most likely have regret.  There are many moments when you only have once chance to say the right thing; one chance to make the sale, one chance to comfort a hurting friend, one chance to say good-bye. Don’t miss the moment.
  4. Ask yourself…will I regret not taking action?   Last week I could have easily pooh-poohed the idea of visiting my family. I was swamped at work.  But I asked myself…will I regret this in the future?  The answer was a big “yes”.  I knew I’d look back and kick myself saying…What were you thinking?  Was work really THAT important?  More important than grieving well and connecting with family?
  5. Prepare for the moment. We often get paralyzed and procrastinate in the moment because we don’t know what to say or do. We feel inadequate so we freeze.  This always amazes me because there is almost always SOMEONE who can help you. But don’t just ask anyone. Ask people for advice who have shown success in what you are questioning.  When I have financial questions I ask people who have managed their money well. When I have parenting questions I ask a friend who has done a great job raising his kids.
  6. Get input from the Bible.  There is so much good advice in the Bible. Unfortunately, many people never crack it open. Even if you don’t believe in God the Bible is a time-tested book of wisdom telling us what kind of decisions succeed and fail.  Check out the book of Proverbs.
  7. Pull the trigger. After you’ve anticipated, prepared and are present then take action. Do or say the right thing. Don’t equivocate.

My dad had a saying…you gotta be thinking all the time.  What that means is that I need to be present. I need to be aware of my surroundings…the opportunities and threats in all walks of life. I can’t afford to be lazy mentally or I’ll pay for it. I’ll regret.

Many people have complained to me that their life has been one bad thing after another.  What’s often true is that they made one bad decision (or non-decision) after another. Good decisions will change your life. There are many “one-time” decisions that relate to finances, relationships, sex, career and more. You don’t want to be led by your emotions or peer pressure or your busy schedule. That only leads to regret. This post is my simple attempt at helping you on the FRONT side of your decisions and not the BACK side.

Question: What are some things that have led to regret or saved you from regret? Leave your comment below and “share the knowledge”  by clicking the links below. Thanks.

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Forgiving Yourself: Five Reasons You Should

Forgiving yourself is hard to do.  This is part three of a series on forgiving yourself. forgiving yourself

Today I want to look at five reasons that forgiving yourself is so important.

1. Forgiving yourself can be a defining moment in your life.

So often not forgiving yourself is a form of self punishment. If God won’t punish you then you have to do it. But what if you took that energy and put it into something positive? Instead of beating yourself up, what if you used your failure as a turning point? Use your failure as the motivating factor you’ve needed to put your life on track.

2. Forgiving yourself adds value to the world.

Refusing to forgive yourself is incredibly self-centered. You think you are doing the world a favor by punishing yourself. But in reality you are only drawing more attention to yourself.  You are only adding to your past failure. If you regret your past then why do you want to add to the regret?

When you forgive yourself you change that. You turn the tide. Now, instead of taking something from the world you are adding back. You are making a contribution. The longer you wait the less contribution you can make.

3.  Forgiving yourself reclaims your story for good.

When you refuse to forgive yourself it’s like you embrace the past.  You choose to accept a bad snapshot in time as your eternal identity. In forgiving yourself you let go of the past and create a new future. You tell a new story…a better story.

4. Forgiving yourself can bring you close to God.

Grace is an amazing thing. You can keep yourself at a distance from grace and stay the same for the rest of your life. Or you can accept God’s grace and let it change you.  As a result you encounter the living God. How cool is that?

5. Forgiving yourself can be a transforming experience.

Everything I’ve listed here speaks of transformation. I’m reading Jerry Sitser’s book, A Grace Disguised.  It’s a book on loss and grace. He makes a powerful statement:

The experience of loss (read failure) doesn’t have to be the defining moment in our lives. Instead, the defining moment can be our response to the loss.  It is not what happens to us that matters so much as what happens in us. (from the front cover)

…your failure can actually lead to a life changing transformation.

What this means is that your failure can actually lead to a life changing transformation. Imagine your funeral. People reflect on your life and say, “Everything turned around after their big failure. That was their defining moment. It was like they became a new person.” Isn’t that what you want them to say? Do you want them to lament your life saying, “Their failure defined them. They never recovered. It’s so sad.” Is that the legacy you want to have?  It’s your choice. It’s up to you. By forgiving yourself you can turn the page and write a great story.

I have more to say about forgiving yourself. Be sure to subscribe to the blog so you don’t miss it! When you do I’ll send you my free e-book, “Forgiven…once and for all”.

Question: What are other reasons for forgiving yourself? Leave your comment below.

Learn more about how to forgive in my book, STUCK…how to mend and move on from broken relationships.

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