In your mind, you vowed that you would never do it. Then you did it anyway. You made a mistake. You crossed a line that you should never have crossed. You broke one of God’s laws. You failed yourself, your God and probably some other people.
What do you do now?
I hate to be the one to tell you this, but what has happened cannot be undone. You cannot go back and magically make things the way they were before. The stain has set. The damage is done.
The only thing you can do now is to forge a new way forward. While you cannot undo the past, there are some things you can do.
1. You Can Be Forgiven by God. The Bible holds out this great possibility of hope. In Jesus death on the cross, my debt was paid. All we need to do is claim Jesus as our Savior and confess our sins to him. God is gracious and kind and will forgive our sins and shortcomings.
2. You Can Ask for Forgiveness From Others. If other people have been hurt there does not need to be permanent damage. You can confess your failure and ask for forgiveness. My shop class teacher in high school used to tell us that if you break a project, don’t give up. Try gluing it back together, and that broken spot can be stronger than before. It is true of both wood and hearts.
3. You Can Use This Mistake to Mold Your Life. Many times, our sins can move us in a new direction. We have seen the dark side of ourselves, and we no longer want to return there. A moment of failure can push us away from our addictions, flaws and bad habits. More than once has a mistake come to light, and it provided an opportunity for someone to change.
4. You Can Allow God to Use This Mistake for Good. Frequently I pray that God will somehow take an ugly moment and make it something beautiful. This past Sunday I shared a story of a woman who had breast cancer, and it became an opportunity for her to change jobs and start a ministry. Similarly, God can take whatever sin we have committed, and all the ugliness that comes with it do a mighty work. When we surrender our weakness to God, then his strength comes through.
5. Mistakes Make for Great Ministry. Rick Warren says that “You biggest failure may be your best opportunity for ministry.” After all, who better to speak to teenage moms than someone who has been in their place? Who better to talk to alcoholics than a recovering addict? Who better to minister to hurting people than people who have hurt themselves? Our experiences can be used by God no matter how we feel about them.
Your failures cannot be undone, but you do not have to be undone by your failures. Every mistake is an opportunity for us to grow and God to do a mighty work in us and through us. One misstep is not the end of your story.