UPS AND DOWNS
Learning and growing
Recently, I was contemplating the topic of wrong choices, after having made a few myself, and was feeling a bit discouraged. Most of us enjoy finding we’ve made the right decisions, and we can definitely see the benefits in those. But it’s harder to see any good that could come from our wrong choices. We make plenty of those, however, from the small ones that we often sweep under the carpet, hoping no one else noticed, to some real whiz-bangers.
Have you ever felt useless and defeated due to having made the wrong decision? Maybe you feel like no matter what you do, you’re never going to be able to make up for your mistakes. Perhaps it seems like the blessings you could have received have been lost, and your life will never be quite as good or complete as it could have been.
I believe that God wants us to see the ups and downs we experience in life through the eyes of faith. Whether we make a right choice or a wrong one, there are many good things we can learn. In fact, I think it’s possible to gain as much—and in some cases, even more—when we mess up.
Our right choices often result in blessings and connection to God. With the wrong ones, even though they do often mean that the road ahead will be longer and more difficult, we can still gain priceless lessons and growth. As we learn to look to God to guide us in spite of our wrong choices, the harder path we find ourselves on can drive us closer to Him through our repentance. The wrong choices also provide a means to relate to others regarding their shortcomings. Eventually, our loving Father brings us through the difficulties wiser and better prepared to proceed to the next stage of our spiritual growth.
Because of His sacrifice, Jesus can ultimately turn even our mistakes and wrong choices into greater victories if we’ll let Him. He doesn’t condemn us, and He can bring
No human ever became interesting by not failing. The more you fail and recover and improve, the better you are as a person. Ever meet someone who’s always had everything work out for them with zero struggle? They usually have the depth of a puddle. Or they don’t exist.— Chris Hardwick (b. 1971)
us to where we need to be, to gain what we personally need from our life and circumstances.
The Bible promises that “There is no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus!” He is happy to see you
1 recognizing the ways in which you can grow as you accept what He wants to show you from each situation. That’s part of the “good” that He helps you to gain.
Look at the Prodigal Son. He willfully rebelled out of selfish greed. But although his path was longer and more difficult than his older brother’s, he learned to understand his father’s love for him in a deeper way. He matured through what he suffered. He lost his physical inheritance, but he gained something much greater. He learned to value his spiritual heritage and his father’s love, which was infinitely more important than the things he’d focused on earlier. Though the older brother made a wise choice in sticking to the tasks the father had given him and was rewarded for it, he too made wrong choices that he could learn and grow from, as evidenced by his lack of compassion and forgiveness when it came to the failings of others.
It’s all a part of the process. We should strive to do our best, to pick the right options, and we can save ourselves a lot of hardship and struggle when we choose rightly. But we all have times when we fall short. It’s part of why we’re here in this life: to learn and grow. It’s impossible to avoid ever making a wrong decision. The goal is to use the good and wise choices we make to the full, and to turn our mistakes into learning experiences. Through these ups and downs, we can learn wisdom and the depths of God’s mercy and compassion and so much more that will enhance and deepen our relationship with him and others.
In my life, I have made the occasional catastrophic choice, and it’s just a case of moving on and learning from it.— James Nesbitt (b. 1965)
How many people are completely successful in every department of life? Not one. The most successful people are the ones who learn from their mistakes and turn their failures into opportunities.— Zig Ziglar (1926–2012)
Inviting Jesus into your life is the best decision you could make. And all you have to do is ask Him:
Dear Jesus, please come into my heart and forgive me for the wrong choices I’ve made. Help me learn from my mistakes and do better in the future. Amen.