Yes, it is true, we all make mistakes. Grace greater than titles is all about finding grace in those mistakes. However, even though we receive God’s grace fully, it doesn’t mean that there aren’t going to be some consequences for our actions or some loss along the way. A shorter term to describe the consequences of sin would be the aftermath. Even though God forgives us and casts our sins to the bottom of the ocean doesn’t mean our friends and family will do the same. Or maybe they do forgive us but their forgiveness isn’t the exact picture that we would want. In those moments where their forgiveness seems indifferent, it is easy to lash out on them and say they should forgive me like Jesus forgave me. Or if they were my “true friend” or “really cared” they should stick with me through thick or thin. I know how easy it is to cast blame because I have been there.
The truth is you and I need to stop pointing the finger and accept the fact that we have hurt people along the way of some of our biggest mistakes.
Trust can take years to build and just seconds to destroy. I wish people wouldn’t look at us different after we mess up but people are human. Just like you want them to show grace for the mistakes you made you need to show them the grace of time to heal. If you are like me, you may want to rush to make it right but some people just need time.
The time people take to heal can be hurtful because it can seem like UN-forgiveness. It can feel like they have given up on you. It can seem like they view you as damaged goods. It can seem like they resent you for moving forward. It makes you think they want a harsher punishment for the things you have done. It can feel like they no longer believe in your calling. It can feel like they don’t love you anymore or that you are no longer worth the friendship or relationship. The aftermath of our sin is just as dark as our sin many times. And the reality is that they may not feel any of these things, but to the one who messed up, the silence can be screaming “guilty!” and more. The harsh reality is things may never go back to the way they use to be before your mistake, and if they do, it could take a long time and a whole lot of work. It hurts, no one can deny that. The thing I think both sides need to see is that it hurts no matter what side of the hurt you are on. It can feel like torture when you are truly sorry and making active steps to heal and be better but it still doesn’t fix those relationships. It hurts when you are on the other side seeing your friend or family member doing better, but you are still not sure you want to have them in your life because of the hurt they have caused you. A lot of times the deeper the hurt the deeper the love you actually have for each other and that’s what makes it harder to move forward.
If I knew exactly how to fix hurt friendships I would probably be a millionaire because we have all hurt someone in our life or have been hurt by someone and have wanted to fix it. I can’t give you a how to guide on how to fix a hurt friendship or relationship, but I can shed some light on what I have strived to do in those moments. I know it is a popular saying, but I remember when a friend first told me that “actions speak louder than words”. Words are extremely powerful- we all know that. Ironically, however, when you have hurt someone your words no longer mean much because of your actions. So I believe that when your actions cause hurt, it will take a change in action to heal. The bottom line is you can’t convince anyone of anything and you shouldn’t have to convince people that you have changed. Whether they choose to see it or not is their choice. Do not put your effort in to get those who were hurt back into your life, but to get yourself back to where you should be. I know the time and distance can hurt, but if you use it to work on yourself, healing will come in more than just one way. This will look different for each person or situation depending on the circumstance.
For some people healing can mean reaching out and getting help with a therapist or pastor. To others, healing may look like letting go of certain responsibilities for a while or getting into your prayer closet more often. Maybe it looks like rebuilding your relationship with the Lord and getting back to him being your best friend and the one that you long for. It can mean having some tough accountability in your life and setting healthy boundaries for yourself to learn what your emotional or sexual triggers are for the temptations you face most. It could even mean learning to appreciate the things and people around you or finding what fills your tank emotionally and spiritually. Even more so, it can entail learning how to be alone and learning not to feel alone when you are with others. And maybe, it can mean finally letting go of deep wounds and learning to count your blessings. Reading this list is easy, but actually doing these things is really tough work. A lot gets exposed in the aftermath, and a lot of times we have a lot to rebuild. Only you know how hard it is for you. You can try and explain it to people but they will never know the depths like you do.
Just because someone knows of your past doesn’t mean they get full access to what you have done in your healing process. For some people you can go through years of rebuilding and they will still never look at you the same. It is part of the aftermath, but you can still find hope in the fact that you have taken action and you have seen the change, and more importantly- God has seen the change. Don’t let proving others wrong be your motivation! Let shining brighter and moving past your biggest mistake be your motivation! What happened doesn’t define you! It’s what you do in the aftermath that refines you. I like being in control. But I know I cannot control other’s feelings. I can only control my actions and my choices. I may never be sinless but you better believe I am going to strive to sin less. All I can hope and pray is that while I work on myself, those who are important to me will see the new me.
You will get better and you can move forward. You are greater than your biggest mistake and you are not damaged goods. God still has a plan and calling for your life; this isn’t the end of your story. The creator believes in you and you can push though. You can get help. Please don’t give up! You are not alone! You have hurt people and it’s going to take hard work, but those who love you will come around just like you have come around to improving your walk with the Lord. The aftermath is difficult but it is building a new you. It is building a you that has Christ’s redemption behind it and in front of it. After the aftermath, you will realize the truth in the saying “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger”. Things won’t go back to the way they used to be because they can be even better than they used to be- friendships and all. I believe it with all my heart. It’s what helps drive me to a stronger walk with my God. We all need a little grace in our life, and we all need that reminder that Grace is greater than our titles.