Have you ever done something you wish you hadn’t? Do you wish you could go back and undo some of the things you’ve said and done in your life? Do you ever wonder if you’ve messed up so bad that God has “given up” on you? If so, you’re not alone.

Ecclesiastes 7:20 says, “Not a single person on earth is always good and never sins.”

All of us have done things we regret. All of us have chapters in our story we wish we could rewrite. There’s not a human being that hasn’t sinned and messed up and wondered, Have I blown it so bad that there’s no going back?

What can you do about the guilt and shame that has piled up in your life? How can you make things right with the people you’ve hurt? Is there any way to get a fresh start and experience more of God’s peace and joy in your life?

Allow me to share a few steps that can help you prevent shame from sabotaging your life:

1. Ask for God’s forgiveness.

1 John 1:9 says, “But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness.”

No one is perfect. We all sin and fall short of God’s standard. When that happens, confess it to God and ask for his forgiveness. He’ll never turn you away or run out of grace and mercy for you. God always gives second chances.

2. Abandon your sins.

Acts 3:19 says, “Now repent of your sins and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped away.”

To repent of your sins means to turn away from them. It means you need to stop doing what you’ve been doing and start doing what God wants you to do. When you do that, God will know you’re serious and forgive you.

God doesn’t expect you to be perfect. There will be days when you miss the mark. On those days, ask for God’s forgiveness and help, and take steps away from your sin and towards your Heavenly Father.

3. Apologize to those you’ve hurt.

Jesus said in Matthew 5:23-24, “So if you are presenting a sacrifice at the altar in the Temple and you suddenly remember that someone has something against you, leave your sacrifice there at the altar. Go and be reconciled to that person. Then come and offer your sacrifice to God.”

Go to the people you’ve hurt and ask for their forgiveness. Admit what you did was wrong. Ask how you can make things right. They might not forgive you (at least right away), but you can have peace knowing you did your part to make things right.

4. Aim your attention positively.

Philippians 4:8 says, “And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.”

It’s time to stop dwelling on the past. Focus on the future God has for you. Find ways to connect and serve the people in your life. Find positive things to think about. Don’t let the past ruin the present or your future.

5. Accept help from others.

James 5:16 says, “Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results.”

Reach out to family and friends you trust for help. Open up to them about what happened. Ask for their encouragement, support, and prayers. Get plugged into a good church. Join a support group. Consider meeting with a Christian counselor. As Pastor Rick Warren says, “Revealing your feeling is the beginning to healing.”

6. Abide in God’s love.

Romans 8:39 says, “No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

No matter what you’ve done, God will NEVER stop loving you. People may turn their back on you, but God NEVER will. Spend time in God’s Word and prayer each day so you can experience more of his peace and presence in your life.

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