“I made just one mistake.”
I have heard this many times. But often that is all it takes – one mistake – one wrong turn at the crossroad – and dreams are shattered, lives are destroyed or a life course is altered.
One mistake is all it takes to switch a train to a track leading to disaster.
One mistake can occur from an error of judgment, willful disregard or disobedience or a moment of loss of self control.
One mistake can have varying degrees of consequences; often many can not be erased or reversed. Painfully true is the fact that it also can affect other lives beyond ours.
But one mistake does not have to be the endpoint of your dreams. No matter what you have done, there is still hope for a better future. You can arise and move forward from the point of your one mistake and you can refuse to let it glue you down to the past.
Two things come to mind thinking about the consequences of one mistake:
1. How can we avoid making this one costly mistake or taking the wrong turn at the crossroad of decision making?
2. How do we move forward after making a mistake without allowing our lives to be defined by the wrong decision we made?
In “At a Crossroad?” posted on May 9th, I shared some actions we can take to help us avoid making wrong decisions. These include seeking the help and guidance of the Holy Spirit, and studying the Word of God to know His will and gain wisdom. In addition, we can like Solomon ask for a discerning heart to distinguish between right and wrong (1Kg 3:9). We need to be able to discern between the prompting of the spirit and that of the flesh.
If you want to move forward, you have to take responsibility for your choices. Don’t blame others or make excuses.
· Seek and receive God’s forgiveness.
· Forgive yourself and let go of the guilt. Unforgiveness and guilt can hold you down to the past.
· If possible seek forgiveness of the people affected.
· Refuse to let the “accuser of brethren” put you in constant remembrance of your mistake.
God is able to make a ministry of the mess we may have made because He is able to work out a good in every situation – working it together for our good when we are repentant and submissive to His will.
There is an opportunity waiting in every setback which will put the glory of God on display in that situation if we turn it over to God.
Some years ago, I was infuriated by a colleague’s unwillingness to take responsibility for a failed project and actually passed the blame to me during a projects’ presentation meeting with the new head of office. I got so angry that I erupted like a volcano, raised my voice and let out a tirade to show his failings and all I did to try and prevent the crisis. It was the last straw that broke the camel’s back for me after a very tensed period of reorganization in the office. I simply gave him a piece of my mind and in the presence of the new head of office.
The ensuing silence was deafening. For someone who had maintained her composure during the crisis in the office through the previous months and earned the respect of most of my colleagues in the process, this outburst was out of character. You could see shock written on their faces, some stared at me with jaws dropping to their chest wondering what got into me.
I regretted my outburst immediately. It was one of the worst moments of my life. I felt so ashamed of myself and disappointed at my loss of self control. For many months afterwards I beat myself down at every recollection of the awful incidence. I had to ask for the help of the Holy Spirit to deal with it and to let it go.
A few months later, I left that office for another position in a different country. I did not meet the head of office again until 2 years later when he attended an international conference I was part of organizing. At the end of the conference, the participants commended the organizing team for a job well done. I was still basking in the compliments when the gentleman told me that he could never forget the day I threw a fit of anger at an important meeting. My bubble was busted. After 2 years, that was what he remembered me by despite my track record in that office—one moment of loss of self control.
I had to make a conscious choice not to let this incidence define me and prayed for grace for both of us to move forward from it.
No matter how difficult it may be, you too can move forward by the grace abounding from God, if you let go and let Him take control.
Have you made a mistake in the past? How did you move forward from it? Share your story and encourage someone today.