I’ve never been a personal believer of the motto “live without regrets” because if you’re like me, I have enough regrets for a lifetime. However, it’s essential to not let your regrets paralyze you, or keep you from making the necessary changes to prevent similar mistakes in the future. After truly being saved on my 21st birthday nearly 3 years ago, I finally embraced what it meant to be a new creation in Christ and not let my past define me (2 Corinthians 5:17) by fully entrusting Jesus with my heart.
Becoming a new creation also meant that I needed to cut certain people, habits, and idols completely out of my life. This was uncomfortable at first, since I used to think that I had to get along with everyone, especially as a Christian. But I realized that there’s a clear difference between being civil (and maintaining distance), and openly welcoming toxicity into my life.
That being said, here are 3 pieces of advice I’ve learned along the way that have immensely helped me live a freer + fuller life in Christ:
1. Let go of the past (including the people + things that influence you negatively)
Whether you need to unfriend, unfollow, or create clear boundaries to distance yourself from whomever or whatever reminds you of the past, this step is the most crucial. It’s difficult to fully move forward when you’re constantly being reminded of an unpleasant season in your life.
For me, this step was the most freeing because I was intentional and honest about the people in my life. I was able to differentiate those who remained true from those who had misguided or harmful intentions. I didn’t want to surround myself with any sort of gossip or catty behavior. This process made me much more thankful for the sisters in Christ (and older mentors in my life) who genuinely prayed for me and encouraged me spiritually, and my newsfeed became a lot more positive too. We are easily affected by what we see, so this was a vital and much-needed step for me.
(I also want to emphasize to not make hasty decisions out of bitterness or resentment- make sure you’re making choices prayerfully- in wisdom and discernment!)
2. Completely cut out bad habits (and stay away!)
We cannot claim to be Christians yet be attached to the things of this world. I know it sounds radical, but the more and more time I spend with God, the more I realize that there’s nothing in this world that can fulfill my soul. On the other end, if I get distracted by the things of this world and am lured away from spending time with Jesus, I find that I’m tempted to go back to pursuing worldliness: whether that means material things, people’s approval, worldly success, or whatever it may be at the time. We need to be diligent about cutting out the habits in our lives that cause us to make poor decisions, or more blatantly, that cause us to sin against God. This is something that I wrestle through on a daily basis, so I know firsthand that it’s not easy- but it’s worth it.
3. Be a vessel of positivity to others (even when people don’t treat you the same way)
We live in a world where justice has become glorified. While I’m also a firm believer in social justice, this has been poorly reflected in our society by having an “eye-for-an-eye” mentality. If someone wrongs you, you seek vengeance. If someone hurts you, you hurt them back. This isn’t the right line of thinking, and it doesn’t do good for anyone in the end.
If we claim to be walking with Christ, we are called to be the salt and light of the earth (Matthew 5: 13-16) which means when others wrong us, we don’t seek revenge. We don’t seek our own righteousness. We seek the righteousness of the Kingdom. We seek to glorify God in humility and meekness.
There’s nothing harder than showing grace to someone who has seriously wronged us. But that’s the point. Grace came at a cost. And Jesus died for us sinners, so that we could have eternal life with Him- when we didn’t deserve it. We still don’t deserve it. And that’s what makes grace so scandalous… yet beautiful.
I pray that these 3 pieces of advice would be a blessing to you today. If you’re reading this and you’re not a believer (or you identify as a Christian merely by label), I pray that your heart would be open to truly declaring Jesus as Lord and Savior over your life. He desires for us to know Him so that it would be well with us. He died for us so that we didn’t have to pay the price for our sins. So we could have eternal life with Him. (John 3:16) There’s no greater love story.