Ashamed of My Past

Ashamed of My Past

My guilt about my past is affecting my relationships now. What can I do to feel pure?
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Q. I've had a very painful, impure past, but I'm a different person now. I feel disgusted when I think about the things I did—all because I wanted to feel loved. My guilt is affecting my relationships now, and I'm tired of feeling like a piece of trash. What can I do to feel pure? I feel so much regret.

A. First, let me say how impressive it is that you have changed your life this way.

I want to handle your question a little bit at a time. Let's start with the feelings that led to poor decisions in your past. You mention that you did these things because you wanted to feel loved. I think that's why most people do most things—we want to feel loved and accepted. We want to feel like we matter to someone. So that feeling, that need in you, isn't wrong. It's the most human longing there is.

I know it's hard to believe it, but God loves you—adores you even—more than you can ever comprehend. There's a passage in the Bible that gives me a lot of comfort during those times when I feel dirty or worthless or unlovable. It says, "And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord's people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God" (Ephesians 3:17-19, NIV). That's incredibly reassuring for me, and I hope it is for you, too.

The best part is that God has always felt this way about you. In the middle of your deepest struggle, God never saw trash. God saw—and still sees—a precious child who is hurting, who has made some painful and unwise decisions, but who is still fearfully and wonderfully made in the image of God.

So let me encourage you to find some healthy ways of remembering that God loves you—like becoming part of a group of caring Christian people at your church. Or looking for good friends who encourage you in your faith and live out God's love to you. You may even need to find a good Christian counselor who can help you work through some of the things that keep you from understanding and believing in God's love for you. (If you don't have one, you can find one at newlife.com.)

Maybe the best way to step all the way into your new life is to give yourself permission to step away from the old one. If you've confessed and repented of your sins, God has forgiven you. Psalm 103:12 says, "He has removed our sins as far from us as the east is from the west" (NLT). He has made you pure in his sight (1 John 1:9). You don't need to feel bad anymore.

Carla is an editor of the Teen Devotional Bible (Zondervan).

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