The mistake was irreversible but there was work I could do to keep it from happening again so for hours I operated in fix-it mode, trying to fix things, trying my best to make things right.
When the work was done, I wrote a note to my editor to express how deeply sorry I was. Beyond this, there wasn’t anything left to do but learn from my mistake and move on. It wasn’t long before my editor wrote back to graciously assure me it would all be okay and thank me for my help in rectifying the situation.
But I still felt bad. Really bad. Guilty, ashamed, brick-in-your-gut so heavy you can’t eat kind of bad.
I sat down to lunch and cried like a dam had burst inside. After spending the entire morning in autopilot my emotions were catching up and taking charge.
Intense thoughts and feelings assaulted me one after another:
You should probably quit right now and never blog again…
After two years of writing you’ve hurt more than you’ve helped…you’ve taken more than you’ll ever give…
This is your fault…how could you let this happen…
The mistake I made was innocent. It was never something I did intentionally or on purpose. I was oblivious to my actions and the ramifications that might in sue. On some level I knew this, I knew I shouldn’t feel guilty. I knew these things happen. But on another level, a stronger level, I felt completely condemned.
Do you know this feeling? Has it ever hit you when you look in the mirror? When you sit in church on a Sunday morning? When you slip into bed at night?
There’s a voice in our lives, and it’s not a nice one. It likes to sneak up on us in quiet moments when we’re alone with our thoughts. This voice, this spirit, it loves to point fingers, replay our actions, and hold our faults against us like a gun to the chest.
How slippery, how well disguised this voice can be. And the trickiest, the most dangerous thing about this voice is how often we think it’s from God.
But this voice is never from God.
This voice is directly from Satan, sent to deceive us, condemn us, and keep us stuck in bondage, slavery, guilt, and shame.
We all make mistakes. We all sin. We all do things we shouldn’t do and say things we shouldn’t say. We hurt people. We hurt ourselves. We make bad decisions or fail to act on good ones. We mess up.
But while God and the Holy Spirit will often convict us, what they will never do is condemn us.
Isn’t this good to know?
The voice that was after me in the midst of my mistake, the voice that may be after you right now, must be tested. Before you listen to it, before you accept that its words are true, notice what it brings to your heart. Does it convict or condemn? Bring life or death?
In your mistakes, in your mess-ups, in your shining moments, listen for the voice of God.
For the voice that whispers, “Child, you are mine. And I will always love you.”