She was unsure about everything it seemed. Apparent by the million and one clarifying questions she asked, while trying to make sure that what her family and friends told her was her gift was actually true. At that point, I wasn’t sure if she was trying to convince the six of us around the table of her suggested talents and abilities, or herself. You could literally smell the insecurity and doubt radiating from her pores like a pheromone as she carefully studied her words. She was visibly uncomfortable, yet seemingly poised. Obviously, there was more to her story underneath the surface and with every question she posed the more my curiousity was intrigued to know what the 90% of her iceberg really looked like. I leaned in as she took a deep breath and prefaced it with, “Well let me explain”. She had gone through a very traumatic life altering event that she was extremely regretful and embarrassed about. Google has been a constant reminder of that mistake, and you could see she is having a really hard time erasing it from her memory. And now because of this one isolated incident, she bares a self-imposed scarlet letter of shame of which she constantly apologizes for in hopes of being pardoned. I reached out and grabbed her hand as she explained the details surrounding the event and her reasons for making such an impulsive mistake. Its amazing the things we will do when our backs are against the wall and we feel we have no other options which was certainly her logic for doing what she did. At that moment, I felt so sorry - not sorry for her or the mistake that she had made, but sorry that she felt the only way to appear to the world that she was truly remorseful for her mistake was by carrying this burden of guilt and shame that she has already been forgiven for. I thought about all the foolish mistakes that I’ve made that weren’t readily accessible for the world to see.
I’m so grateful that God reminds us in Psalm 103:10-14, that “He does not deal with us according to our sins, nor repay us according to our iniquities. For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us. As a father shows compassion to his children, so the Lord shows compassion to those who fear him. For he knows our frame; he remembers that we are dust.” I wanted to throw my arms around her and hold her because I could totally empathize with her story. The saddest part about her story is not that she hasn’t been forgiven for her debilitating blunder, but that she quite frankly has not forgiven herself. She swiftly bought into the lie of condemnation offered by the accuser. But Jesus did NOT come to condemn the world (John 12:47) and there is no condemnation in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:1). She had undoubtedly forgotten that she made a mistake…but she is not her mistake.
This young lady had allowed guilt, shame and unforgiveness to paralyze her from living her best life. The byproduct of her dragging this guilt, shame and unforgiveness around was her unfortunately surrendering to a spirit of fear. Fear is not just an emotion it is a powerful stronghold…a toxic spirit! God does not gives us a spirit of fear but of love, power and a sound mind. We can’t be so consumed and overwhelmed with the opinions of others that we take our eyes off God. Its disheartening that we allow the noise of the outside world to drown out the inner voice of the Holy Spirit. We set ourselves up for sure failure when we place ourselves on these unrealistic pedestal that when we fall short of perfection, we have a hard time bouncing back. We have to give ourselves and others permission to fail because at the end of the day, we are all imperfect creatures trying to please a perfect God. Its not the failure that we should be concerned about, but the
disbelief that we have a right and a responsibility to get back up again. We focus so much on past mistakes and things we can’t change that we totally forfeit the joy we could experience in the present. Even a righteous man falls 7 times!
After we departed from the round table, I felt compelled to pull this young lady to the side and pray for her. This was my opportunity to use my gift to remind her of “Who” she was not "What" the enemy convinced her she had become. As we held hands and the tears rolled down her cheek I could feel that arresting energy dissipate as her grip softened. We don’t do ourselves, or anyone else any good by staying stuck in the quagmire of guilt and shame. God’s opinion is the only opinion that really matters. If He has forgiven you than all is forgotten.