We all mess up in life--sometimes in small ways and sometimes in big ways. But regardless of the extent, falling prey to our own humanity is inevitable. I wish it weren't true, but every day I am confronted with the man I am NOT. I have a picture in my mind's eye of the person I want to be. He often looks a lot like my grandfather, sometimes like a battalion commander I had in the Army, and at other times like a thesis advisor for one of my college diplomas. Yet, no matter his particular manifestation, and no matter how clearly I envision this "man," I never seem to achieve his likeness. This is sort of the dilemma Paul presents in Romans 7. He knows what he wants, but he just can't quite get there. That is definitely me!
Nevertheless, there is one thing I can achieve, and that is repentance. I might not be able to free myself of human frailty, but I can free myself of its all-consuming burden. I can say "I'm sorry" to God and others and effectively turn from my inequity and stupidity. Of course, doing so doesn't suddenly make me a great guy in the eyes of those I've hurt, absolve me of consequences, or make everything "roses and lollypops" (as my kids say), but it does start the process of personal and corporate healing. And, most importantly, confession makes things right with God. John records in his first epistle that confession leads directly to forgiveness. Thank the Lord it does!
Yes, I have hurt people in my life. And, yes, I've beaten myself up considerably for acting like a jerk, being insensitive, or displaying selfishness and pride. Even so, I've found that the words "I'm sorry," when spoken with sincerity and contriteness of heart, are very powerful. Sure, it can be difficult to muster up the humility required to say these simple words, but I'm not sorry to say that God forgives and blesses those who find it within themselves to do so. Hopefully I can remember this the next time I make a mess of things. I'm sure I won't have to wait too long!