Are there things in your past that haunt you? Have you made bad decisions and now you think things like… “I can’t trust myself with money” or “I don’t know if I’ll like that hobby or not so I won’t even try.”
Sterling talks about how we can make peace with past decisions so we can learn to truly and deeply trust ourselves.
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Are there things in your life that you regret? I did not become Catholic until I was 24.
I was a pretty pouty Catholic for 2 years after that until I felt like I really chose Catholicism, and I really understood it with my heart. But for all those years before and I was raised with no religion, I did a lot of things. I did a lot of secular things, a lot of worldly things. And I hear this often from women in our community who talk about how it haunts them the things that they’ve done in their past. And today, we’re talking about how you can make peace with bad decisions in your past. And I’m kind of air quotes here about bad decisions. But there are things that you feel ashamed of, things that you maybe wish people didn’t know, things that you wish you could delete out of your past. But they still cause you pain in your present when you think about them. And so this episode is about how you can bring those experiences into the light, give them back to the lord, and make sense of them.
The inspiration for this episode really came because I did an episode on our business podcast. We have a business podcast called Catholic Moms Need for Business. And I was talking about making sense of a bad investment. Like, if you had paid for a program or hired a coach and had a bad experience a lot of times in business, then women carry that with them into the future thinking things like, I’m bad at managing money. I can’t be trusted. And after I finished that episode, I thought, well, this is just true of all decisions that we are labeling bad. And because we’re labeling something bad, we usually make that mean something negative about ourselves. And the real work is to look and see, are you still holding on to some sort of negative identity about yourself because of something that happened in the past.
So I had boyfriends before I became Catholic, and I slept with a couple of them. And I could make that mean that I can’t be trusted, that I don’t have good judgment, that I don’t know my worth. But I could also go look and see. Okay. Why was that part of my Saint Jude story? And in what ways did those experiences make me stronger? I definitely spent way too much money when I went to college on stupid things like sweaters from Jay Crew trying to, like, feel cool or feel like I had money, and I managed money really poorly. Like, I wanna say around high school and early college, And I carried that with me for a long time, like, that I’m bad at managing money. I overspend. I’m not good at keeping track of things. I think even at that time, I knew that it wasn’t a great decision, and that I was trying to overcompensate for low self esteem.
And I’m sure there was a part of me that wondered if I would always be like that. K. So those are just 2 examples. There are many examples of things that we’ve done in our past, behaviors that we’re not proud of, things that we’re not necessarily sharing with all of the people that we know now. And here are the questions I think are really, really important to ask about those experiences and then an exercise that you can do. To help you make peace with them. So the first question I like to ask is what good came out of this? There is a lesson. There is a strength. There is a knowing that comes out of all hardship. How are you better, stronger, wiser, more mature because this happened to you. Now I look back at some of the things that I did before becoming Catholic And I appreciate that they have given me such a softness for people who live in the world. Right? Because I was definitely pro choice.
I would have for sure been waving a pride flag. Like all those things, And I just have so much compassion and charity towards people who are very worldly and doing kind of pop culture, worldly things because I was that person. And I was a good person. I was just kind of caught up in group sync and what everyone else was doing. I was living in Seattle. Everyone was pro choice. Right? And so I’m really grateful for those years and what I’ve lived through because I feel like it gives me an understanding for people who aren’t Catholic. It gives me compassion for them. The other reason I’m really grateful for those years is And a lot of the things that I did is because I know that everyone is just a moment away from choosing God. Right? So right before I chose to love God and to have a relationship with Jesus Christ and to repent of my sins, I didn’t look like I was gonna do that. I didn’t look like a person who was gonna make that choice. And so when I coach women, we have lots of older women in our program whose kids are grown, and they come for coaching on their adult children.
And I will tell them, listen, we never know what’s gonna bring someone to Christ. You never know when it’s gonna happen, and it doesn’t have to be a long crazy process. Right? The Lord just pierced my heart, and I made a 1 80 pretty quickly. And so I’m really grateful for those bad decisions. I’m very good at managing money now. And I’m also very forgiving is not the right word. Like, understanding of young people blowing their money because I totally remember what it was like to do that. And again, your prefrontal cortex is not super formed. Your brain is not completely formed until somewhere 23, 24, 25. And that’s why we do a lot of immature things in college or at that age or we buy things we can’t afford. And we rack up credit card debt, and we do silly things to impress our friends or to fit in. And so I’m just glad that I lived through that because I get it and I can speak to young people with authenticity about understanding the desire to do those things and with so much compassion and love about, like, yeah, you did that. It’s okay. Let’s make peace with that.
Now what are we going to choose? And so there are just always good things that come out of trials and challenges and crosses. So I really want you to see that. I like asking myself also, how was this helping me to become a saint? Because there is some way that that was moving you towards sainthood, and maybe it was moving you towards sainthood by building up a muscle of virtue, of learning how to be maybe you were really selfish and that burned you And so then, you had to go through this experience in order to be less self centered. To be more charitable, to be more forgiving, to be less judgmental. Right? Sometimes we’re really judgmental of other people until we have gone through something, and we’re like, oh, I see how easy it is to fall into that behavior. And now I feel less judgmental about that. So how is this preparing me for the same hood? How is this moving me toward that? Because that is what God’s story is for you. God is outside of time.
Humans are so bound by time and we’re so consumed by time. So even the way that we’re talking about this, decisions from our past is about time. But God just wants your soul in heaven forever. Right? And so he’s given us this obstacle course to prepare us for Saint Jude. How how are these decisions in your past? How are they going to be part of your Saint Jude story? And I want you to keep asking those 2 questions. What good came out of this how is this preparing me for Sainthood until, and this is really, really big, until you would go back in time and choose it again. You would choose to do it again. That is how you know that you’ve made peace with something where you really see. You see god’s goodness in it or you see how god redeemed it. Because, of course, God did not create my life plan saying you should have premarital sex with non Catholic people before you meet your husband. He did not design that for me. Right? But he can see all things, and he knew that was coming, and he he said, I’m gonna redeem that in you, Sterling, and it’s gonna be part of the story that you have. You’re gonna talk about it someday. You’re gonna share about that someday. And who knows? Maybe when I get older, I will end up doing more work with young adults. And maybe that will be part of my story. So God is good and he loves you and your life is so intentional and beautiful.
Look for goodness. Look for the ways that it is leading you to Sainthood until you would go back and choose it again. That you see, it’s part of who you are. Now not all of you are gonna be called to live a public life like I do, So it’s very easy for me to see that God has called me to certain things, knowing that I would then have a stage and write books and talk about them. And so some of you, these choices may remain hidden, and that’s okay. You know the story. God knows the story. And you can use those things for good and to grow in virtue. So the next thing I want you to do is to really believe in God’s forgiveness. Okay? Because God has forgiven you. He sent his son into the world to die for your sins. And when you confess your sins, you are washed clean. That sin is no more. Right? It’s like it’s buried in the backyard. But in your mind, you keep going there and digging it up. And the Lord’s like, I don’t know why you’re digging that up. We buried that. We put that to bed. That’s over now. That is not part of you. And you’re like, but it is. It is part of me. And so you’re going over there and you’re digging it up. And that’s why I love this word haunting, like, when these memories are haunting us because they’re just kind of, like, dark and we’re holding on to them and we don’t need to.
If you have taken it to confession, it is clean. It is the whitest snow. You can move on. God does not want you to hold that with you. He doesn’t want you to carry it into the future. And so listen, it is a completely normal human thing to doubt the Lord or doubt that he is who he says he is and that he really will forgive that particular thing, or maybe you did it a hundred times and you think, like, he’s probably not gonna forgive it a hundred times. And she wants you to know that it’s completely normal to have doubts about that, but then that’s where I would spend my time. I would go read the bible. I would buy a book on forgiveness. And I would go learn about that until it was so clear to me that God had forgiven all of these things that I had done before. And if you aren’t sure, like, maybe you didn’t fully confess it, maybe you didn’t confess it at all, maybe you don’t remember, go do it again.
Now we don’t wanna confess things multiple times if we made a good confession. But let’s say, you know, you did something you were 19 and you were like, vaguely, Cathy. Or kinda Catholic and you’re worried that you didn’t really confess it. Take it to confession 1 more time. Let his blood wash you clean, and then leave it in the past. And then another thing that you can do, an exercise that you can do, and we cover this in our community, and I also just covered this in the keep your cool workshop, which was so amazing. It’s called revisiting a memory with Jesus. And it’s really very simple. You just get into a quiet space, and you invite Jesus into your mind. And then you watch a memory with him, and you ask him to explain to you what was going on. And so you can do this about a negative memory. And he will say things like, oh, I love you so much. You were hurting so much when this happened.
You felt far from me at this time. I was with you, but you didn’t feel me or you didn’t know it, or we didn’t have a strong relationship then. And here’s what you were doing, and you were so desperate for love, acceptance, Right. We know that most of our bad decisions are just us trying to put a worldly solution in our hearts when really only God will fill that hole. And so you go through the memory. In the community, you have a really lovely audio file. That is where I walk you through this exercise with some lovely music in the background so you can do it. But it’s really very simple. Anyone can do it. And it always feels good. If you are worried about revisiting a memory and feeling shame or darkness, don’t. When the Lord is with you, he says wonderful kind things to you, and it helps you to feel better about the memory.
And so I want you to ask, what good has come from these decisions in your past? How will they be part of your Saint Jude story? Like, imagine there’s this, like, lifetime movie or your event, and they’re covering that part of it. How was that part of your Sainthood story? And then check-in with yourself, do you believe that God has forgiven you? Have you forgiven you? Do you need to ask for forgiveness for someone else? Maybe it’s lingering because you haven’t asked for forgiveness. So just kind of checking forgiveness all around and then revisiting the memory with Jesus if you want. He is a great healer. He can help you. He loves you so much. Alright, ladies. I hope this helps you. I hope this helps you put some things in your past to bed and to make peace with them because God does not want you to be afraid. He does not want you to live with stress or worry or guilt or fear. He wants you to live with peace. Let us make peace with our past so that we can mother from peace.
Thank you so much for listening. And remember, you were Made for Greatness.