Have you ever thought “Man, I've really messed things up”? Maybe God has given you the grace to see that you have fallen into a great sin that has slowly taken over your life and has now become an addiction. Or maybe you've thought “how did I ever get into this?”
Maybe your problem is a bad friendship, drugs, impurity, lies, and the list of possibilities keeps going. We all have stuff in our lives we wish we could erase. A lot of times we think there is nothing we can do. We can’t rewrite history, so we have to accept the faults and start over.
Here are a few ways to start over:
1. Recognize your fault
2. Confess it to a priest
3.Talk about it with your spiritual director
4. Do a personal examination of conscience every day
Recognize your fault
Sometimes we don’t want to recognize that we have a fault that is pulling us down and making life rough for others and for ourselves. Some obvious symptoms of this are: you get easily irritated with others, you cause arguments at home, you easily criticize others, you can’t stand to look at yourself in the mirror. Why are these signs? Well, the way you treat others changes because your sin has taken over your heart and pushed charity out. You can’t stand others; so you are irritated, especially with your family, that you cause arguments. You aren’t at ease with yourself because you are sad or discouraged about your sin, so you criticize others to make you feel a little better. You are drowning in sin.
There is a saying that goes like this: “God forgives always, men forgive sometimes, but nature forgives never" We can make decisions that can have lifelong consequences. We can hold onto sins, be attached to them for so long, that they have ever-lasting physical effects. God can forgive and wash our sins away, but the consequences could remain.
So, recognize the fault. You are trading in the greatness God has planned for your life, for pleasure, desires, persons, ideas, and thoughts that you don’t want to break away from. Is it worth it?
Once you know your fault, it is time to let it go. Say good-bye, adios, farewell, never want to see you again. Let the love, mercy, and forgiveness of Christ conquer your heart and kick the sin out of it. A lot of people don’t look at confessions in this way, do they? No. They usually think it means going to tell their most embarrassing secrets to a priest. On the contrary, it is opening yourself up to the loving embrace that God wishes to give you.
How do we know this? Jesus told parables to get it into our heads, to help us understand his never-failing love. So listen to Him! Check out the parables of the Prodigal Son or the Lost Sheep. Do you still doubt? Then look us St. Faustina and the Divine Mercy. Christ appeared to St. Faustina to communicate, over and over again, his desire to forgive the sinners who come to Him in the Sacrament of Reconciliation.
The biggest fear you might have is the embarrassment of recognizing your sins. But we are all sinners, even priests go to Confession. So, they understand how it feels to have to humble yourself in order to receive God’s mercy and forgiveness. Christ desires to take this burden away from you and help return his grace to your heart.
Talk about it
That's right, talk about it. Not with everyone, or with your best friend, or a few friends. No. Talk about it with someone who can help you and encourage you to overcome it. Talk about it with your spiritual director and if you don't have one, find a priest or a religious that you can confide in and talk to him.
Express the struggles you are facing, so they can help you make some resolutions to over come it. They will keep you accountable, without making it seem humiliating. Remember, your spiritual director is also a sinner and is also trying to make his way on the path of holiness. He knows what it is like to have struggles.
Make a personal examination of conscience everyday
Now that you have recognized your sin and confessed it, you have to start being proactive ito prevent yourself from falling into it again. How can you be proactive? One way is by doing a examination of conscience every night before you go to bed.
Some people think an examination of conscience is something you do right before you go to confession. No, no, no. It is wise to do a particular examination of conscience before we go to bed, to see if we have been faithful or not to everything God has asked during the day.
There are common things like prayer commitments, working on virtues, acts of charity. But when you are starting over, breaking free from a big fault that you have been attached to for a while, it is wise to do a particular examination on that sin. Did I avoid near occasions of falling into this sin? If my problem is looking at impure images online, did I limit my time to the internet? Did I check my email in the kitchen or in front of others to avoid being by myself in the room with a computer?
The best thing to do is to ask advice from your spiritual director about what kind of questions you could ask yourself to keep yourself in check.