I Messed Up: 3 Actions

How Mistakes Can Make You Sick…and What to Do about It

Confession is good for the soul and bad for the reputation. Well, my cheeks are burning. I messed up BIG time. I wrote a speaking event on the wrong date. I remember being happy I was free to do this event. I love this group. After booking and beginning to promote the conference something made me check the dates. To my horror the conference overlapped a retreat I’m doing!


What do you do when you royally blow it? First, I feel ashamed. Next denial sets in. The night I discovered my blunder, I kept searching my communications hoping I was reading something wrong. Surely, this is a sign-up deadline, not the event date.

Then I look for someone to blame. Since I have no assistant, that wasn’t an option. I couldn’t even blame God. I was the one who’d blown it.

At this point I was feeling so remorseful I was willing to scrub toilets for a year. But nothing could undo my mistake.

This experience caused me to consider what I know to be true in spite of awful feelings. I hope it will help you when you goof up.

  • Problem: Shame—Feeling contrition is healthy; wallowing in shame is not. Shame keeps us self-absorbed and grumpy. It makes us want to quit and hide.
  • Antidote: “I sought the Lord, and He answered me,
    And delivered me from all my fears.
    They looked to Him and were radiant,
    And their faces will never be ashamed” (Psalms 34:4-5, NASB). Looking to the Lord reminded me my righteousness and acceptance are not based on my performance but on Jesus’ performance. I have the righteousness of Christ!
  • Problem: Blame—Searching for a scapegoat doesn’t right the mistake. It makes us helpless victims.
  • Antidote: “A man who refuses to admit his mistakes can never be successful. But if he confesses and forsakes them, he gets another chance” (Proverbs 28:13, NIV). We must humbly own our mistakes. When I did, my friends were gracious with me. Even if the one we’ve wronged doesn’t respond well, we must still do right.
  • Problem: Destructive self-talk— Accusations from our three-fold enemy:the world, the flesh, and the devil, berate us and try to keep us trapped in shame. “How could you be so stupid? What is wrong with you?”
  • Antidote: “Who dares accuse us whom God has chosen for his own? Will God? No! He is the one who has forgiven us and given us right standing with himself. Who then will condemn us? Will Christ? No! For he is the one who died for us and came back to life again for us and is sitting at the place of highest honor next to God, pleading for us there in heaven” (Romans 8:33-34, TLB). “Even so consider yourselves to be dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus” (Romans 6:11, NASB). We are to consider ourselves dead to these taunts and loved by God. Nothing, not even our mistakes and sin, can separate those in Christ Jesus from the love of God.

Like insect bites, emotional stings distract and may linger a while. But if we apply the balm of God’s truth, they soon subside. By faith we thank God for His promise to cause “all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28, NASB).

I’m choosing to trust Him to use my blunder for His glory and for the good of all who love Him. What helps you come back after you mess up?

I hope to see those in Cary, NC this week at our Give Yourself a Break event!

Click here to comment.


Debbie W. Wilson

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  1. Amy

    Mistakes are unintentional and can reveal the sin of pride. Following the steps you list relieves the human condition and releases a powerful antidote: forgiveness. The result? Humility. I can live with this cycle (and will until my dying day) because it shows me how much I need a Savior.

    • Debbie Wilson

      Amy, you hit the nail on the head, it can reveal pride. Great insight. God uses our mistakes to build humility, whereas our enemy wants to shame us.

  2. Stephanie sudano

    Thank you for this well written reminder of how to get past mistakes. I torture myself just as you’ve described and this is a great reminder of how to let God help me get over it and myself:)

    • Debbie Wilson

      Stephanie, I like how you said “let God help me get over it and myself.” It seems we always need a little help getting over ourselves!

  3. Ann

    What great steps Debbie! We all seem to cycle through each one you listed and the antidotes were perfect.

    • Debbie Wilson

      Thank you, Ann.

  4. Keita Ikeda

    I am particularly not good at apologies, However, I do see incredible value in restoring relationships and bridging the gap between myself and non-believers. I suppose that is partly because 1) it parallels my attitude of contrition to our Lord and 2) it keeps my heart from becoming too proud. Although I am not in particular agreement with apologizing for other christians’ sins, I am all for recognising christian faults as a way of affirming the hurts of other people and people groups. Apologies and affirmation of sin – There is something that is good for the soul in this, which makes it Holy in the sense that it deserves respect. And as a Christian, we ought to always take each others’ confession with kindness and sorrow as a way to grieve the loss.

    • Keita Ikeda

      PS – Kindness as in God’s Kindness, as in the illustration in the book of Ruth. Boaz showed Naomi and Ruth not just a legal transaction to cover their debts, but kindness to re-integrate them back into community and back into God’s shelter. We should do the same for any debtor.

      • Debbie Wilson

        Keita, What a wonderful illustration with Boaz. Kindness, not just a legal covering.
        I don’t think apologizing is easy for most of us. We want to forget our mistakes. I agree with Amy, even though it hurts to admit our failure, humility is a good reward.

  5. Sandi B.

    Timely insights — mistakes are so common, at least for me. And it seems Satan really uses them to attack and distract me. Thanks for a reminder how to handle these.

  6. Shirley Miller

    Debbie…that was so encouraging. Thanks too…for how you were willing to tell us about your mistake and how God worked. It helped me to feel like I’m not the only one who makes schedule errors, misplaces things, etc… God is so good and continues to remind me that He is working in and through me even when I make a mistake. Thanks again and may God bless you.

  7. Angela Chatham

    The first thing I usually do is beat myself up and replay the events in my mind. However, we are all human and we are going to make mistakes. I try to grow and learn from my mistakes. And, as you stated, bring it to God and believe that somehow he can turn my mistake around for his glory. In the end, all we can do is give it to him and move on. Although, this is easier said than done at times.

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