It is officially the new year, and with this new chapter comes the waves of new resolutions. Maybe you want to exercise more, eat healthier, spend less time consumed in your phone, or stop biting your nails. Resolutions are great goals to set for bettering ourselves - they have such great intentions, even if the running joke is that they can be quite hard to keep. I love the thought of bettering ourselves, though. Moving forward, pressing on. And that can be hard to do at times, especially moving on and pressing forward from our struggles. We all have downfalls, bad habits, mistakes we make, temptations that we can get caught up in - it can be extremely difficult to really move on from them. So how do we move forward from those constant struggles? How can we press on towards the goal of Christ, when we have bad habits and mistakes tripping us up?There are five steps that I believe can help us actually and properly move forward from past mistakes/current struggles, into a healthier life of pursuing Christ.
That first step is understanding the reality: we’re all human and we all mess up (James 3:2). I know at times when I mess up, I can let the weight of the sin just crush me - as I am sure you have experienced before too. No one is unlovable for God and no sin can separate you from Him! God is always near and wants to support you. Psalm 37:23-26 says, “The Lord makes firm the steps of the one who delights in Him; though he may stumble, he will not fall, for the Lord upholds him with His hand.” Remember that the Lord is near to you if you call on Him, even in your struggles. The second step to pressing on from a tough struggle: don’t deny and don’t get comfortable! We must come to grips with our mistakes. If we continue to justify them, forget about them, sweep them under the rug - we will continue to struggle. This is how we learn and grow - if we can come to grips with our mistakes, we learn to not make them again. 1 Corinthians 10:12 says, “If you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall!” Right when you think you got ahold of your bad habit, that’s when the temptation will be toughest. Third, we must make things right: confess. 1 John 1:9-10 tells us that the Lord is faithful to forgive, but we must ask for it first! Whatever type of struggle you face, you must take it to the ultimate judge and seek His forgiveness. That’s not easy to do - admitting you’re in the wrong - but what a sweet relief comes when you ask for and receive the loving forgiveness from the Father.
So now that you’ve made things right with God, where do we go from there? Well: don’t return and don’t dwell. God has made you in His image, and He has given you a purpose. That purpose is not to struggle mistake after mistake! It is to seek Him, glorify Him, and to worship Him. In Philippians 3:13, Paul tells us that he’s got a long way to go to reach his prize, but that he forgets what is in the past and tries hard to reach that goal of pursuing Jesus. He doesn’t say that he will be perfect, but that he will try hard to pursue Christ - we must do the same. We won’t be perfect, but we have to try and move past our mistakes the best we can. Lastly, to move on from that struggle: we gotta get up and press on! Press on towards the goal of Christ (Philippians 3:12, 14): press on towards loving Him, telling others about the good things He has done for you, discuss how He has changed your heart and saved you from the life of struggle. These difficult things we go through, the bad habits that need to be changed that only God can change - this is how we grow as humans. It hurts at times, but God uses these things to grow us and bring us closer to Him.
So what’s that struggle that you had in mind while reading this? What is that one thing that you can’t shake, the struggle that holds you back, the bad habit that gets you stuck? Maybe it’s constant lying - to yourself, your friends, family - to make yourself look good or keep you our of trouble. Is it bad language that you have been struggling with? Cheating on school work for a better grade? Is it the things on your phone that you find yourself looking at that you probably shouldn’t be? Is it the way you view yourself in a negative way, the low self-esteem that you want to rid yourself of? Whatever that struggle is: it isn’t too much for your loving God. Let’s put that difficulty in the past, let’s learn from it and walk on in the power and love of Jesus Christ.