Next Time Can BE Better

If you want next time to be better than the last time, or you want your life in the future–even tomorrow–to be better than yesterday, there is a very important thing I/we/you need to do and that is……. to hit the pause button. Taking the time to note, recognize, and take responsibility for my/your/our part in the unacceptable so that next time you have a better chance at succeeding or enjoying a better outcome.

It is in our nature (sin nature) to play the blame game with our failures, our mistakes, our screw ups, especially when more than one party has contributed to the “mess ups,” “the failures,” in our lives. Understand that if you are involved in the “failure” and if you truly want to have things turn out differently in the future the very best thing you can do…is to realize that YOU can control what YOU do….NEXT TIME.

Why is this so hard? We are all wired to hide or not want to see our part. It is so much easier to “point a finger” and shed light onto someone else’s actions or inactions or to take some painful circumstance and not allow the “light to shine on us.”

No matter how big my/your/our part is in a debacle/mistake, the sooner we realize we had a part, no matter how small or big, the better. The quickest way to a better, brighter future is to decide to look at our part/responsibility and stop blaming. As Andy Stanley says so well, “Blame enables us to smuggle our issues into our future.” I love this and know it to be true.

We only have to go to the first book of the Bible and the first two humans in history, Adam and Eve, to see how both of them “blamed” someone else. Adam blamed God and Eve, and Eve blamed the serpent. When God asked Adam if he had eaten from the tree he was commanded not to eat from, Adam’s response was, “The WOMAN YOU put here with me-she gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate it.” [Genesis 3:12–emphasis mine]

When the Lord asked Eve, “What is this you have done?” Eve replied in Genesis 3:13, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.” We also learn from Adam and Eve what our natural tendency is when we screw up…we HIDE! It is so hard and not in our nature to look at our responsibility. We would rather hide and blame someone else.

For me personally, especially in the last 6 years, I have learned to “draw a circle” around a problem or issue and look at my responsibility, my actions and my sin. It is there and only there that change can occur…that I can have a better day. I can have a brighter future…when I can “own” my sin/mistakes/shortcomings and make next time better than the last time.

Thankfully I now understand that blame sets us up to repeat our mistakes. But pausing and taking responsibility for my choices, my decisions gives me energy for change and the future. It takes the negative energy and drops the temperature of my emotions when I admit my part and also gives me clarity for the real change that needs to take place. Emotions…especially that come from painful circumstances cloud our vision and our actions…it muddies the water for our future.

I encourage you today…take responsibility for your life–the good and the not so good. Get with God. Become honest. Don’t hide. Seek with a pure heart. Matthew 5:8, “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.” That is where truth and redirection comes from, God!

Look at the times in your life when you may have said to yourself, “I had a feeling something wasn’t quite right,” but you ignored it. You ignored that small inner voice. You were too far down the road in your own desire or understanding to put the brakes on. Or maybe you have been at a place where people you loved tried to “ring the bell” but you ignored it.

Your need to be right was greater than admitting maybe you were wrong or didn’t know it all. Maybe someone, in love, tried to get you to read something because you were not listening to their voice of reason. Or maybe you can look to a time when you were thinking, “I should have gone home instead of staying or I could have called a cab.” Or maybe you have to admit to yourself, “I was too concerned about what others would think or say.” Or a real biggie that we can tell ourselves is this, “I can handle this/it.”

We lie to ourselves!

No matter what…no one escapes the fact that when things go wrong in my/your/our lives there is some responsibility that we need to take. A common denominator in all of “our problems” is “us!”

Becoming honest with ourselves allows for a better, brighter future. Don’t let your pride, your need for self-preservation, stop you from looking in the crevices of your life–the ones that are hard to look at. You cannot get rid of the dirt if you first are not willing to see it.

A real fresh…new…clean …..day/future starts with me/you cleaning our “dirty”. It will enable you to not “smuggle dirt/poor decision making” into your future. It lessens the anger over other people’s shortcomings because we can now clearly see our own.

I encourage you …don’t blame nor let your shame stop you from cleaning up your issues/sin/shortcomings. Taking responsibility for your stuff is key to allowing God to do a good work in you and through you. Your past does not have to dictate your future. Remember, you are the one who will be the common denominator in both!

Seek God…His love and grace covers our mistakes…but He doesn’t desire for us…to keep nursing our failures or repeating them.

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