Leaving a shameful past in the past


By Jessica Brodie

Her little face was a crumple of tears and frown lines—another not-so-great grade in what was a string of not-great grades over the last few weeks. No matter how hard she tried, she just couldn’t get past it.

“But I was an A student,” she wailed. “Now people are going to think I’m one of ‘those kids,’ the ones who don’t try hard, the ones who don’t care about school. But I do!”

I hugged her tight, explained that a few misses didn’t define her, that a simple “bad” grade didn’t make her a “bad” student, that even if she never did well in school again from here on out, she was still a good person, still had worth.

We made a plan: nightly studies, no more computer games during the week, renewed focus at school. It was a new nine weeks, after all; a new beginning—the perfect time to start fresh.

Still, she couldn’t get past the label, terrified her whole identity was now on the skids.

God, give me the words to help her, I silently prayed.

And then a scripture filled my mind: the Apostle Paul’s words from 2 Corinthians 5:17, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come; the old has gone, the new is here” (NIV).

Sometimes, just like we can’t get past our embarrassment about lagging grades, we can’t get past the stains of our past. Sins can feel like a bad report card grade, can’t they? Like they’re on your permanent record, blazing bright for all the world to see, like a scarlet letter or a stamp that says “no good,” “worthless,” “shame on you.”

But we don’t need to bear the weight of those sins anymore. As Christians, when we choose to believe in Jesus Christ as our savior and truly repent, we receive the most amazing gift: a clean slate. Jesus paid the price of our sins, and we stand before him now as a new creation. The old is gone—not just hidden but gone!

Faith sometimes isn’t just in believing in Christ, believing the promises of God. Faith is also believing that no matter what we did in the past, we’re not that person anymore. We have a new identity, a new life.

Let’s leave the past in the past.

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