I wrote a Facebook post about this exact title a couple months back and to be honest, since that time, I have wanted to write more about the topic. The topic at the time was about making mistakes and how we automatically put ourselves down and we believe we ARE the mistake.
Here is the Facebook post:
“We are so hard on ourselves when we do something wrong, but it isn’t necessary. The mistake that you made does not define the kind of person you are.
The divorce you are going through doesn’t mean you won’t be loved again or that you failed at marriage. You learn and grow and move on.
The weight you gained back doesn’t mean you are the number on the scale. YOU ARE MORE THAN A NUMBER!
The credit card debt doesn’t mean that you suck with money, it means you maybe made a bad choice, but you have the ability to change your money situation.
Mistakes are part of life. You will make them. But stop the negative self talk because that won’t help you change your situation. It does not need to be part of your everyday story because You can choose a different story –TODAY.
You give grace to others so today, give yourself some grace. Learn from your mistakes but realize that YOU ARE NOT THE SUM OF YOUR MISTAKES. Believe that you are capable of anything you set your heart and mind to and big things will happen. Mistakes are lessons learned, not your identity…”
When I was 26, I got pregnant before Greg and I got married. We had only been dating 6 months and we weren’t even engaged yet. Telling my family was one of the hardest things I have ever had to do in my life. The shame that filled me after telling them was heart breaking. I went a month without talking to my mom or my sisters. I tried to break up with Greg because I felt so unloved and unworthy of love. That one mistake would literally give me so much heartbreak and leave me so broken.
At the time, when I was going through this I could not even keep my head up. Shame was probably stamped on my forehead. I think that when we feel like we make a giant mistake, we tend to want to hide. That was the case for me anyways. I wanted to hide away and not let anyone see me and see how ashamed I was of the mistake that I made. The baby itself wasn’t the mistake and Greg and I knew that we were going to get married, but the shame that followed from being an unwed mother was absolutely crippling for me.
I couldn’t bare to tell anyone at work that I was pregnant until I was 17 weeks along and I couldn’t hide it anymore. Why would I want to tell anyone and subject myself to more judgement and shame?
When I finally started telling other people, my friends and work family, I didn’t experience shame and judgement… instead it was one of acceptance and celebration. To be completely transparent, my pregnancy was not one that I looked at with celebration. I felt more burdened by it at this point and for the first time, when I started telling people about it and they were happy that I started to be able to lift my head up again.
I started seeing it as the gift that it truly was. After about a month, I reconciled with my family. I know that the pregnancy was a shock to them. God knows I do nothing perfectly and thank God for the grace He freely gives.
Over the past few years, this lesson has come full circle for me.
You are never too far away from God. The mistakes you make are never too big that God won’t love you. Even if those around you are making you feel shame and giving you the sense that you are unworthy of love, your Holy Father is always there with open arms telling you that you will be ok.
This lesson would not be apparent until 5 years after having Joey. 5 years of learning and light being shined on my big mistake for me to open up about the shame that I experienced. I had a lot of learning to do about the way that God feels about us. I had a lot of learning to do about the people that Jesus hung out with in the Bible. He didn’t hang out with the holy people, he hung around with sinners.
Jesus didn’t judge, instead he gives us grace. That is powerful and when I started to understand that, my shame melted.
Last year, while our little small group met, one of the questions from our IF table was about something you have had to endure that changed you and I opened up about my pregnancy before marriage.
2 other women had the same experience and guilt from that. We shared our guilt and we shed light on it and I still believe that it takes the pain and guilt away when we can share the mistakes we made to people we trust. When we shed the light on our fears and shame, they lose power.
It was so freeing for me to talk to these ladies about what I went through.
I feel like since that time, I’m supposed to share what I’ve learned from this and that is why my little blog changed…. again. I believe that I am supposed to share more of my story of how I have overcome fear and shame to help others do the same.
I do not believe that God wants us to walk through this life feeling the burden of the mistakes we have made in the past. He wants us to accept the grace He provides and live fully in this life.
I believe that God has a purpose for each and every one of us. We each have specific gifts and talents that are needed for those that are in our lives.
No matter what you did, you have already been forgiven. It was a very hard concept for me to understand and maybe it is for you too, but just know that this is your reminder. You are not the sum of your mistakes and you should not be burdened or held back because you think you are.