Understanding Weakness: On Mistakes, Perfection, and Forgiveness

You’re going to make mistakes. God doesn’t hate you for that.

This is what I should have told myself years ago when I was starting out in college.

It was the spring semester of 2016, and I was taking a mix of online and seated classes at a community college while working part-time as a tutor at the writing center. One of my online classes was a world history course with my history professor from the previous semester—Mr. Z we called him. He was the fun, quirky professor always eager to chat with his students. I met with him multiple times to discuss my papers and upcoming exams, and during one particular meeting, we discussed a paper I was writing for another history class that he was helping me perfect.

As I settled into my seat across from him, I gazed in horror at his marked-up version of my draft on his desk. How could I—I have made that many errors?! Mr. Z sensed my panic and quickly explained.

“Relax, it’s not terrible,” he said with a chuckle. “I’m pushing you harder because I know you’re at the level where you can handle it.”

It wasn’t much of a comfort. I wanted my work to be near-flawless, and he knew that. I always wanted to know all the answers, and if I didn’t, I didn’t want anyone else to know it. When I explained my (admittedly) flawed mindset, Mr. Z said something to me that I’ve never forgotten.

He said, “You don’t want people seeing the chinks in your armor.”

“No, I don’t!” I said (a bit surprised that he hit the nail dead center). You see, I believed that if people saw the chinks in my armor, it meant they would see me as weak, vulnerable, incapable—human.

Sometimes, you just don’t want to be that real with people. You’d rather just go through life with no one knowing anything about what you’re going through or how you feel deep down. That way, when you mess up, there’ll be no one to judge you and no one to know that you don’t always make the right choices.

Making mistakes is for weak people, I told myself, and weakness is wrong.

Yes, weak people make mistakes, but as humans, we are all weak by nature, having an imperfect and sinful nature by default. Weakness isn’t necessarily wrong. It’s just natural. That’s why we need God. Through Him, we receive strength to overcome our flaws. What I failed to understand then was that it is OKAY to admit that you’ve made a mistake. You are only human, and God doesn’t punish you for that.

Our sinful nature and inclination to make mistakes doesn’t give us license to make whatever mistakes we want just because, but it does mean that our mistakes should come as no surprise to ourselves. God isn’t surprised that we fall and fail and make bad choices, and He doesn’t expect us to be perfect. There is none perfect but Him. He doesn’t beat us up when we make a bad choice, and neither should we condemn ourselves.

No matter how many times we mess up, if we truly repent and seek forgiveness, then God is faithful to forgive us of our sins (see 1 John 1:9).

When you realize that God’s grace extends to you no matter how many mistakes you make, then you’ll be able to extend that same grace to others.

It was when I learned how to release the self-condemnation that I felt for the mistakes I’d made that it was easier to forgive others for the things they’d done wrong. They were only human like me, after all. I could see my own flaws, my own imperfection in others and knew that if God didn’t hold my mistakes against me, then I shouldn’t hold others’ mistakes against them.

If you don’t forgive yourself, how can you truly forgive others?

You are not perfect. You will continue to make mistakes. But guess what?

It’s not the end of the world if you do. God’s grace is sufficient to cover your sins (see 2 Corinthians 12:9), and His strength is more than enough to help you overcome your weaknesses.

There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the tempation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.

1 Corinthians 10:13 (KJV)

There is a way to escape the consequences of our weak nature—salvation in the name of Jesus and doing our absolute best to live as He has instructed us to live. God created us to be imperfect beings in need of our perfect Creator.

Lean into that.

Give your flaws, mistakes, and all your baggage up to Him.

It’s okay if you fail. Just remember that God never fails.

It’s okay that you’re not perfect and what you do isn’t perfect. Just remember that His love is perfect.

If you fully surrender to God and trust Him with all you have and all you’ve done, He will take care of you, and you’ll be closer to Him than you were before.

Welcome to 2022: A Bit About The New Year, Jonah, and Forgiveness

Happy New Year 2022 from yours truly!

Welcome to 2022!

This first post of 2022 is going to be pretty simple and casual because, to be honest, things are already starting to get crazy busy, and my mind can’t focus long enough this week to spend 3+ hours writing anything!

First order of business, I just want to say thank you to everyone who is reading this and beginning the new year by keeping up with Breathe Pray Repeat. It means SO much to me! Second order of business, I wanted to share a thought with you today on something that’s been on my mind for a while now, and it involves perception, forgiveness, human nature, and the account of Jonah.

From all the things I’ve heard said about Jonah throughout my life, I’d say the dude gets a pretty bad rap. Of course, he did literally try to run away from God’s commandment and was angry when God wanted to show others mercy, only being truly distressed when his plant died. But if I’m going to be completely honest with you, I have to say that I find Jonah incredibly relatable. You see, it’s easy when we read the Word to separate ourselves from the people we’re reading about as though we would never act or think like they did when they made mistakes. Sometimes, it’s easy to think of them as mere 2-D historical figures playing out a role in our heads rather than real, regular people. When we do that, we forget our own human nature.

Jonah did NOT like the people of Nineveh to say the least, and as I read a little about Nineveh, I began to understand why Jonah felt as he did. Nahum called it “the bloody city,” and witchcraft, murder, fornication, and other evils were abundant in Nineveh’s society (see Nahum 3). Suffice it to say, they were a truly wicked people committing unspeakable horrors and egregious evils. It’s completely understandable why Jonah, who knew full well what kind of people the Ninevites were, would not want God to pardon them (however wrong he was in his response).

Put yourself for a moment in Jonah’s sandals. You’ve seen and heard what the Ninevites do, and then all of a sudden, God tells you to go preach to them, and knowing God, you KNOW He will show them mercy. And (because you know how much evil they’ve done), you don’t want them to be given mercy. No. You want them to be punished. After all, how could they do all that evil and then get a free pass?

Ay, but there’s the rub. Therein lies the flaw in your thinking. And therein lies the point of the book of Jonah.

It isn’t about all the bad things the people of Nineveh did. They truly repented, and God always honors true repentance, and He offers forgiveness and mercy even though we don’t deserve it.

What shall we say then? Is there unrighteousness with God? God forbid. For he saith to Moses, I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion.

Romans 9:14-15 (KJV)

Our human nature doesn’t want to look past people’s mistakes. That’s why we often want to hold grudges against others for hurting us. That may even be why we may want to judge Jonah for the mistakes he made. Our expectations of others can make us forget our own human nature and flaws.

God extended grace and mercy to the people of Nineveh as He does to you and me. He is faithful and just to forgive us of our sins if we turn from our wicked ways and seek after Him. Jonah shows us an interesting study of human nature, but it also shows us that God wants us to be forgiving towards others as well.

No matter what so-and-so did or said to hurt you or others, forgive them. No, they don’t deserve mercy, but neither do you. God GIVES us grace. We don’t earn or deserve it. Our flesh causes us to judge others and hold grudges, but it’s the Spirit of God within us that helps us show mercy and love.

So, that’s it for today! It’s true that even after what we know about Jonah, I still relate to the dude for how real and imperfect he is. There is an account out there that states he came to his senses after the end of the recorded book of Jonah and praised God, so there IS hope even for us stubborn people!

Thanks for reading the first BPR post of 2022! There should be a guest post on here in the next couple of weeks, so stay tuned for that as well.

God Bless,

Caitlin

7 Things to Do at The End of Your Rope: A Guest Post by Jake Walden

We’ve all heard the expression, “I’m at the end of my rope.” And we all get to the end of our rope at some point. How do we get there? Life, usually. Things happen. We get tired, worn out, burnt out. Or maybe we do it to ourselves. We let ourselves slip to the end of our rope. No matter how we get there, the end of our rope is a place where we have nothing left. If we get any lower, there’s no more rope to hold on to.

The end of our rope is not final, however, and I’ll tell you why. Here are 7 things to remember at the end of your rope:

1. Don’t let go.

This is very important to remember. Letting go at the end of your rope is definitely not the answer. As the old saying goes, “When you’re at the end of your rope, tie a knot and hold on!”

“And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.”

Galatians 6:9 (KJV)

Don’t stop coming to church. Don’t stop praying. Don’t stop fasting. Don’t stop giving. Don’t stop seeking the face of God. Tie a knot in the Word of God and hold on! Letting go is not the answer to your problems.

2. Don’t blame God.

Too often, when people are at the end of their rope, whether life got them there or they got themselves there, they start to blame God.

“Why did God let me get here? God must not care about me anymore. God must have more important people to help. He must not have His hand on me anymore.”

All are lies that we can begin to tell ourselves if we aren’t careful and don’t keep our hearts right. Job’s wife told Job to curse God and die when he was at the end of his rope, but he would not curse God. The Bible says that in all this Job did not sin with his lips. The Bible also says it rains on the just and the unjust.

God tells us, “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end” (Jeremiah 29:11, KJV).

“Don’t stop seeking the face of God. Tie a knot in the Word of God and hold on!”

Jake Walden

3. Forgive yourself.

We’ve got to learn to forgive ourselves. We will get nowhere if we cannot forgive ourselves. Maybe you condemn yourself because your decisions got you to the end of your rope. Or maybe you cannot forgive yourself because you simply feel that you were not strong enough, and now you’ve ended up at the end of your rope.

Whatever the case, you’ve got to forgive yourself. You’ve got to realize who you are to God. You’ve got to realize that He will not hold your shortcomings against you, and you shouldn’t hold them against yourself.

His mercy endures forever. He loves you. And it is not wrong to love yourself enough to forgive yourself.

4. Let go of the past.

Even if you have forgiven yourself, you’ve still got to let go of the past. What has happened has happened. Sometimes, we have the opportunity to make amends, and that’s good. But you’ve still got to let it go.

Stop dwelling on what got you to the end of your rope. Stop losing sleep over it. Stop worrying about it. The only way to ever escape it is to let it go and move forward. You can’t change what has happened, but you can control what you will do next!

5. Surround yourself with Godly influences.

When you are at the end of your rope, don’t go to the people that are going to fill your mind with a bunch of mess.

Don’t go to someone like Job’s wife who will tell you to blame God. Don’t go to someone who is going to turn you on your brothers and sisters. Don’t go to someone who will gossip about and trash talk other people or gossip about and trash talk your church. Don’t go to someone who will tell you to let go of what you believe in. Don’t go to anyone who will tell you to lash out at people.

Don’t go to someone who will tell you to do ANYTHING that contradicts the Word of God.

Like the Bible says, don’t be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. Surround yourself with Godly, positive influences—someone who will pray for you and with you, someone who will encourage you and lift you up. Like the Bible says, seek WISE counsel.

6. Trust God.

“Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.”

Proverbs 3:5 (KJV)

This is a very important step. Even when you don’t understand why you’re at the end of your rope, trust God. Like the Bible says, lean not unto thine own understanding. It also says right after that, “In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths” (Proverbs 3:6, KJV).

God’s ways are higher than our ways. We do not know more than God. Sometimes, things happen, and we end up at the end of our rope, wondering, “Why am I here? This was not my intention.” But God knows right where you are, and He knows exactly what He’s doing. He isn’t punishing you. He won’t let us carry more than we can bear. Things just happen sometimes, and we end up at the end of our rope. But don’t ever stop trusting and believing that God has got you. 

“For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.”

Romans 8:18 (KJV)

“I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help. My help cometh from the LORD, which made heaven and earth. He will not suffer thy foot to be moved: he that keepeth thee will not slumber.”

Psalms 121:1-3 (KJV)

Romans 8:28 says ALL things work together for the good of them that love God and are called according to His purpose.

7. Bless the Lord at all times!

Job said, “Naked came I out of my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return thither: the LORD gave, and the LORD hath taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord” (Job 1:21, KJV). One of the most important things you can always remember is to bless the Lord at ALL times.

David said, “I will bless the LORD at all times: his praise shall continually be in my mouth” (Psalms 34:1, KJV).

When you’re at the end of your rope, don’t stop praising. Don’t stop worshipping. Don’t stop giving God the honor and the glory. There is power in that, and it gives us authority over the voice and influence of the enemy.

Don’t stop saying, “Blessed be the Name of the Lord!”

********

Jake Walden is a licensed minister with the United Pentecostal Church, the youth pastor at Restoration Apostolic Church in Winterville, Georgia, and the Section 3 youth director for the Georgia District Youth Ministries. He is also the host of the podcast What Was I Thinking? with Jake Walden in which he covers Biblical topics with an informal, easygoing demeanor. You can follow along with his ministry on Instagram (@jakewalden39). Be sure to check out his podcast on Spotify or Apple Podcasts and subscribe today!

How to Overcome Self-Condemnation: Appealing to the Mercy of God

A man seeks God's forgiveness in prayer.

Sometimes when you make a mistake, the hardest part of forgiveness is forgiving yourself. If you’re like me, you might tend to beat yourself up for mistakes you’ve made, mulling over them at night and asking yourself how you could be so stupid. Self-condemnation completely hinders the process of forgiveness.

When we make a mistake, we must ask God for his mercy and strive to resist temptation and live according to His Word, but sometimes our own thoughts can make it much harder to feel forgiven when we imprison ourselves in our own guilt. What we forget in those moments is how much God truly loves us. In order for us to move forward with peace and in confidence, knowing that He has forgiven us, we must recognize His love for us and that His mercy has no end.

Two examples in His Word show us what it means to appeal to God’s mercy.

When Lot and his family escaped Sodom and Gomorrah, he asked God to save a nearby city so that they might flee to it and be saved.

“Behold now, thy servant hath found grace in thy sight, and thou hast magnified thy mercy, which thou hast shewed unto me in saving my life; and I cannot escape to the mountain, lest some evil take me, and I die: Behold now, this city is near to flee unto, and it is a little one: Oh, let me escape thither, (is it not a little one?) and my soul shall live. And he said unto him, See, I have accepted thee concerning this thing also, that I will not overthrow this city, for the which thou hast spoken. Haste thee, escape thither; for I cannot do any thing till thou be come thither. Therefore the name of the city was called Zoar.”

Genesis 19:19-22 (KJV)

One of the first things Lot said to God was a reminder that God had granted Lot grace and that He had “magnified [His] mercy” by saving Lot’s life. When Abraham went to God to try to convince Him not to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah, he appealed to God’s justice, asking if God would destroy the “righteous with the wicked” (see Genesis 18:23). Abraham did not succeed in his intercession for Sodom and Gomorrah, but Lot succeeded in his intercession for Zoar by appealing first to the grace and mercy of God when he was in danger and needed to be saved.

In the New Testament, Jesus told a parable of humility and mercy when comparing the Pharisee to the publican.

“Two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican. The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican…. And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner.”

Luke 18:10-11, 13 (KJV)

In this parable, the publican acknowledged his sinfulness and asked that God would show him mercy. He showed humility and an understanding of his own faults and need for a Savior.

These examples remind us to appeal to God’s mercy when we are facing difficulties and when we need forgiveness. Lot appealed to God’s mercy when he needed salvation from circumstances. The publican appealed to God’s mercy when he needed salvation from sin. Neither Lot nor the publican were perfect men, but in Lot’s case and in the parable of the publican, both men were sincere in their appeals, and God showed them His mercy. When we make a mistake and ask for forgiveness, we’re stating that we cannot make it on our own. Our appeal to God’s mercy becomes a declaration that we need Him.

Messing up again and again is human nature. God knows this. Of course, our human nature is not an excuse to sin, but rather it is a reminder that we need Him in order to resist temptation and receive forgiveness.

God is just and faithful to forgive of us our sins as His Word says in 1 John 1:9.

What these accounts remind me of is how much He wants to forgive us. Our God longs for us to surrender to Him and serve Him in righteousness and sincerity, and when we do, then He will forgive us of our sins. We need not walk in guilt and self-condemnation because He already paid the price for our sins and freed us from guilt and shame.

We can overcome guilt and self-condemnation by appealing to God’s mercy, by recognizing our flaws and inadequacies, and by understanding that it is only through the grace, love, and mercy of our Savior that we move forward and walk in confidence with Him. Self-condemnation will keep us from accepting His forgiveness, but the self-realization of our weaknesses and His great love for us keeps us under His blood and walking in newness of life.

*****

Post Schedule Announcement:

Lots of things are coming up as my schedule will be getting busier over the upcoming weeks, so posts will be on Fridays only until further notice.

I’ve seen there are some newer readers and subscribers to Breathe Pray Repeat, so I also want to say “welcome,” and I pray these posts bless you and encourage you to get closer to God as you seek Him more and study His Word.

If you have any post or Bible study requests, don’t hesitate to comment below or send me a message and let me know! God Bless!