Spiritual Growth and Encouragement for Christian Women

How to Recover When You Know You Messed Up

  • Misty Honnold Crosswalk.com Contributing Writer
  • Updated Jul 11, 2017
How to Recover When You Know You Messed Up

A battle called “Mary and Martha” wages in my mind. It’s like the Bible story in Luke 10:28-32 when Martha messed up by allowing her busyness to get in the way of the “better thing” her sister Mary enjoyed—intimacy with Jesus. 

Unfortunately, in a world of demands, schedules to maintain, bills to pay, children to raise and dinners to make, the Martha in me often takes over. When this Martha rises up in my flesh, something disengages in my heart, and I become a doer and not a lover. I get preoccupied, and people can get hurt. Sometimes I mess up epically, with consequences that are long-standing and with damage that can seem irrevocable. 

But the truth is we all mess up, right? The key is how we handle it afterward.

I have determined that the biggest problem is not in the messing up, but the real tragedy comes when I pitch my tent and camp out in the land of “I messed this one up AGAIN.” That is a dark place that can quickly lead to a pit of hopelessness. 

I learned many years ago that in order to stay in a place of hope for the future, I need to recover and bounce back quickly. I need to seek and receive the Lord’s grace, and I need to give grace to myself. Being able to recover when we mess up is a sign of spiritual and emotional maturity, and it’s time that we as believers become resilient and live in the victory we have in Christ. That honors and pleases Him. 

For me, this life-changing revelation came at the onset of my journey as a single mother. I had experienced an especially difficult day. I had yelled at every child, caused countless tears, probably even spanked a few out of anger. As I laid down at the end of that exhausting day, I remember being tormented about how bad of a mother I was and how I was damaging my children. I viewed myself as the queen of mess-ups. But a soft whisper wafted over my broken heart reminding me “My grace is sufficient for you.” I was being invited by the Lord into a journey of discovery… a revelation of how to abide in the gift of His grace, not just proclaiming it but really learning how to rest in it.

“[My lovingkindness and My mercy are more than enough—always available—regardless of the situation]; for [My] power is being perfected [and is completed and shows itself most effectively] in [your] weakness.” (2 Corinthians 12:9 Amp)

I wanted to land right there in that place of lovingkindness and mercy that God promised in His Word. I came to realize that the quickest way is through humility.

Discover the Need for Grace

Many believers have been conditioned to think that “beating ourselves up” for our mistakes is somehow holy or righteous. We give lip service to being forgiven, but we get stuck in lies that contradict that truth. It’s essential for us to embrace the need to fully receive grace before moving forward.

Confess the Need for Jesus

The best way to step into freedom is to confess the reality of our bondage and sin—and to repent, including for our unbelief. When we condemn ourselves, we are saying, “Jesus, Your blood is not enough to cleanse me.” I believe that hurts the heart of our Savior, Friend, and Redeemer, so we must apologize and move forward in faith and trust.

Choose to Believe You are Forgiven

Because lies will still bombard our minds, we must take on the helmet of salvation and recall that Jesus remembers our sin no more and has removed it as far from us as the east is from the west. This renews our mind (Romans 12:2) so we can walk in a whole new way.

How wonderful that God wants to bring glory to His name when we mess up. He invites us to give Him space to display His Divine goodness through our failures, so let’s do it!

“So God can point to us in all future ages as examples of the incredible wealth of his grace and kindness toward us, as shown in all he has done for us who are united with Christ Jesus.” (Ephesians 2:7 NLT) 

A Prayer for When You’ve Made a Mistake

Lord, You see every way that I have messed up over the course of my life, yet You still choose to love and pursue me. You invite me to walk in freedom from condemnation. I confess that I have chosen time and time again to hold on to the guilt of my sin—but I don’t want to carry that baggage around anymore. I want freedom! I want to receive Your grace and to be a display of Your lovingkindness for others to see. I choose to believe that Your forgiveness is more than enough for my freedom—and I choose to forgive myself. I give You my ashes, my mess ups, and I invite and trust You to make something beautiful out of them all. Amen.


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