“I’ve really messed up”
“How do I bounce back from this?”
Have you ever done something that you’re not proud of? How do you escape the feeling of failure which influences how you perceive yourself, your life and your future? I’ve seen that while we do have to face the consequences of our actions head on, life with God provides a way to restoration through the mess. You don't have to live in the overwhelming guilt and shame of your past mistakes.
Too good to fail?
In 2 Samuel 11-12, we see that noone is above making mistakes, not even David. From slaying Goliath, to becoming the King of Israel; David was a “man after God’s own heart”, who also wrote the Psalms. Despite being relentlessly hunted by Saul who was once his mentor, he refused to kill him when he had the chance. If there was anyone who was expected to have it together, it was him.
But at the peak of his career, he meets Bathsheba, the wife of a man he knew called Uriah. Nevertheless, he slept with her, she became pregnant and David arranged for Uriah to be killed, in order to hide what he had done. I'm sure no one ever expected this from him, not even David himself - he had an impressive resumé behind him and a strong relationship with God. But still, he messed up.
I surprised myself, too
Have you ever caught yourself thinking “if I were him/her I would / could NEVER do that”, (sub)consciously reveling in the idea that we are morally or behaviourally superior to others in certain situations. The danger with this inflated sense of “goodness” is that it is the source of a large part of the pain and disappointment that surrounds us when we make a big mistake. We’re surprised by our own actions.
It’s important that you not misinterpret yourselves as people who are bringing this goodness to God. No, God brings it all to you. The only accurate way to understand ourselves is by what God is and by what he does for us, not by what we are and what we do for him. – Romans 12:3 (MSG)
An example of this is with our loved ones. It’s easy to put someone on a pedestal so high that their inevitable ‘fall from grace’ is so significant that the relationship is never the same again. Now apply this to how you perceive yourself: have you ever disappointed yourself to the point that you don’t even recognise who you are? It doesn’t have to be like this. While we must take responsibility for our actions, you do not have to live in the shadow of your mistakes for the foreseeable future.
Moving on : Wash your face, comb your hair
Just like everyone else, David had to face the consequences of his actions. What he did had an impact on the generations to come, as well as his newborn child. As the saying goes, for every action, there is a reaction. Despite his best efforts to plead with God, sadly the baby died. The painful truth is that while we can do what we want, we can't control the outcomes. So what do we do when the dust settles, and all that is left are the painful remnants of our actions? We have the choice to walk through the pain and learn from it, or live a life far below our true potential.
Once David found out that his child had died, he washed his face, combed his hair and went back to worshiping God. Everyone around him was wondering why he didn’t spend more time writhing in agony. Instead, with the strength from God working in him, he refused to continue to carry the debilitating weight of his poor choices.
You have the freedom to do this too.
Sometimes the gravity of what has happened feels like it’s about to swallow your whole life up. For me, it felt like nothing I did in future would ever be worth it, because it all would always be marred by the fact I had once fallen short. It might seem dramatic, but that’s how guilt and shame work - they consume so much of your mind that you lose perspective. While it’s natural to experience pain for a while, with God by your side, you are free to get up, get dressed and move on.
Back to Life
[After their child’s passing] David went and comforted his wife Bathsheba. And when he slept with her, they conceived a son. When he was born they named him Solomon. God had a special love for him – 2 Samuel 12:24
What I love about this story is that is shows how God can turn what was a complete mess into something beautiful. Let me tell you why:
a) While all these events couldn’t have happened at once, the fact that they are described in a single verse is highly significant. We spend the last chapter and a half reading about David’s moral demise: charged with drama, regrets and moral failures. But just like that, in one simple verse, things turn around. This is reflective of life experiences; the period of pain can feel like a never-ending journey of twists and turns where things go from bad to worse. But with God, we can straighten out even the most twisted areas of our lives.
b) In the NIV version of this story, this also is the first time that Bathsheba is described as David’s wife. Up until this point, she was called “Uriah’s wife”. It’s as if now, after David faced the consequences of his actions and returned to God, things start to fall into place.
c) Finally, his new child was named Solomon. Spoiler alert: Solomon grows up to be the wisest among his contemporaries and also writes some key books in the Bible including Proverbs. Not only did God give David a child, but he gave him one who has left an undeniable imprint on history.
You are not your mistakes.
I have battled with the feeling that my mistakes prevent me from ever accessing life to the full as Jesus promises. But David’s story showed me that there is always an opportunity for restoration in the midst of the chaos and hurt. David’s story is captured in the Old Testament, nevertheless, he is still regarded as one of the greatest people in the “Hall of Faith” much later on in the New Testament. On top of all of this, Jesus himself is referred to as the “Son of David” which shows that God accepted David and acknowledged all the positive elements of his character, in spite of the bad. That's how God sees us.
From David’s story and my own personal experiences, I learned that true repentance (recognising where we went wrong and resolving to change our ways) is able to change your life completely. For the longest time I thought repentance was about hanging your head in shame and feeling like the worst person on the planet. In fact, it’s the complete opposite: it is opportunity to make things right and learn from our mistakes. And that’s what makes you wiser, more resilient and better off in the long-run.
In this week’s subscriber email, we will build on some of the principles discussed in this post. As always, thanks for reading guys and speak to you soon! Click below to subscribe