This morning I was looking at Facebook posts from earlier years, particularly 2010, 2011 and 2012, and many of them reminded me of relationships with girlfriends I had in those years. Fitting, since tomorrow is Valentine’s Day. Yet when I looked at the posts, I felt shame. Not because of the relationships themselves but because of how I consistently acted in the relationships.
At those times and with those girls, I had no idea how much of an impact my actions would have on who I was to become. All I wanted was to enjoy the moment in any way I could. I did set limits on what I chose to do with the girls, but those limits were arbitrary, changing to fit my fancy when I spent time with each girl. I trained myself to act like an animal.
Not only was I malicious to myself, I also refused to consider how my actions were affecting my girlfriends. Consumed with a lust to satisfy my desire for an all-fulfilling relationship–emotionally and physically–I coaxed each girl to act in ways they later admitted they didn’t want to act. And like me, they cannot now take back what they did with me. They might try: I noticed this morning that some of them had apparently removed me as a Facebook friend. I don’t hold this against them: I disrespected them, so naturally they want to disassociate themselves from me. No matter what they do now, though, they still chose to act with me in ways they have come to regret.
As I recall my shameful actions in past years, these decisions to indulge passions that were at those times better left not aroused, I lament the times I wronged these women. I am sorry for each time I took something that they will never get back. And I never want to be that person again.
There is good news in the midst of my regret: I don’t have to repeat my mistakes. I am free to live in an honorable way.
I am free because Jesus has set me free.
When I recall these parts of my past, I have a tendency to feel shame. Yet Jesus was with me in all those times. He didn’t leave me in spite of my decisions to wrong the women He loves and to sin against Him. I knew I should not try to fulfill my lustful desires, yet I tried to fulfill them anyway. While I willfully acted against Him, Jesus stayed with me and let me know, “I still love you.”
Mercy and love such as this leaves me on my knees, face-down.
Jesus gives every person this grace, forgiveness, freedom and love. He is forever faithful. And He never gives up on anyone.
This changes me. Since I know the power and hope of God’s love, I cannot keep it to myself. I have resolved to no longer use any woman for futile attempts to satiate carnal cravings, but instead to honor all women, knowing God loves them with the same deep, boundless love He gives me.
This Valentine’s Day is a reminder that I am free to show real love as Jesus showed it to the people around Him. My past and my shame have no hold on me–I am safe from them in the arms of my Savior.