Through Every Season

Turning My Eyes from My Failures to Jesus, My Victory

I majorly disappointed myself last week with some very narcissistic thoughts, really immature words, and actions that embarrassed myself. It wasn’t a super unusual experience, it was just that this time I had a bigger audience and felt more ashamed. It was also that instead of taking my shame to Jesus and telling Him how sorry I was, I turned against myself and tried demoralizing myself into maturity. Spoiler alert: it wasn’t helpful.

I began beating myself up with thoughts like, “When am I ever going to grow up?” It wasn’t long before, I felt a supernatural power feeding me with stronger and stronger berating words and self hatred. I knew better, that I needed to stop, felt very tempted to throw more blows at myself, and pulled downwards into darkness all at the same time.

I stopped to look at Jesus.

I stopped to look at Jesus. He took all the blows for my immaturity, narcissistic thoughts, my guilt and shame on the cross. For me to punish myself is to say that the cross wasn’t enough. It is not what God desires. “…human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires” (James 1:20). It is not Jesus’ desire for me to align myself with my accuser and heap condemnation and shame on myself. Jesus died to set me free, to lead me into His righteousness, peace and joy.

Conviction is different.

In the midst of all of this, I felt convicted. I felt convicted of my sin from last week and for thinking I could whip some self-righteousness into myself. Conviction is different from guilt, shame and embarrassment. Self-righteousness is different from the free gift of righteousness imputed to me when I place my faith in Jesus. With self-righteousness comes pride, fear and hatred.

With conviction comes the desire to turn to God in repentance and ask for help. Conviction is my loving Father in Heaven, bending down to say to me, “I can help you live a better way. Submit to Me, resist the devil and he will flee from you (James 4:7). I am the Way, the Truth and the Life you are longing for.” Guilt, shame and embarrassment are invitations into sin and death, while conviction is an invitation to come up higher into the life of Jesus.

I resisted the temptation to continue to condemn myself and turned to God.

I chose repentance, surrender, faith in Jesus and rest in His life.

Help from Other Believers

A friend unwittingly helped me decide to turn and look at Jesus when she confided in me how grateful she was that she started a study on the armor of God just before entering an unforeseen trial and shared how she saw God’s hand preparing her through it. Hearing her story helped me look up.

I talked to God about the armor of God. I’d heard sermons on it, done studies, taught Sunday school classes on it, dressed my kids in play armor of God, and I honestly felt like I was still missing the big picture. How do you “put it on?” How did it work?

Suddenly, I thought of other verses about “putting on” and “putting off” and it made a little more sense for the first time. [Thank You, Holy Spirit for suddenlies!] I found a great article that pulled together a bunch of verses and talked about how Jesus instructed the disciples to wait in Jerusalem until they were “clothed with power from on high.”

I think all that time in Sunday school and children’s church had given me the impression that the armor of God was something you put on once in the morning and it was on, but that is not the case. Yes, spending time in the Word and praying in the morning is helpful, but more than that “putting on” and “putting off” is about meditating on the truths of the Word, and allowing them to transform the way I think and live.

What I needed to mature and become more focused on others was not to be beat down by shame or built up by self-righteousness, but to meditate on Christ, the cross, the gospel and to be “clothed with power from on high.”

Instead of beating myself up, I need to acknowledge the weakness of my flesh and wait expectantly on God to arm me with His strength. 

Help from the Word of God

Pulling in the verses where Jesus instructed the disciples to wait to “clothed with power from on high” really touched my heart and some other verses I had been meditating on:

Luke 24:49 “And behold, I am sending the promise of My Father upon you. But remain in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high.”

Acts 1:4 And while they were gathered together, He commanded them: “Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift the Father promised, which you have heard Me discuss.”

John 14:26 But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have told you.

Isaiah 44:3 For I will pour water on the thirsty land, and streams on the dry ground; I will pour my Spirit upon your offspring, and my blessing on your descendants.

John 7:38 Whoever believes in Me, as the Scripture has said: ‘Streams of living water will flow from within him.'”

Self-righteousness was NOT the cure for my guilt and shame. I was thirsty for Living Water. Christ Jesus was the only One who could satisfy my true hunger. Waiting on and trusting that God would fulfill His promise and clothe me with power from on high was the only way for me to find peace within. I needed my Advocate, not my accuser’s help. I needed to fix my eyes on Jesus. I needed to be reminded of everything that He had taught us.

Lessons from Ephesians 4 in Grief

I turned to Ephesians 4 to read some “put on, put off” verses in context and remembered how several years ago in one of my grief support groups we had discussed how destructive thoughts were bad self-council and how we should filter our thoughts with “Is this helpful?” I always remember my mom saying she tries not to think “unproductive thoughts.”

While prayer journaling the following morning, this came to mind:

“Let no unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building up the one in need and bringing grace to those who listen.”

Ephesians 4:29

I realized that nothing “unwholesome” …but only what is “helpful” needed to be true of what I say to myself as well as to others. I needed to give grace to myself. I need to only think and say things that are helpful to build myself up so that I could build up others. I wrote, “Some really good self-counsel in that verse!!” and copied other verses from the chapter below it:

“Then we will no longer be infants, tossed about by the waves and carried around by every wind of teaching and by the clever cunning of men in their deceitful scheming. Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into Christ Himself, who is the head.”

Ephesians 4:14-15

“So I tell you this, and insist on it in the Lord, that you must no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their thinking. They are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts. …But this is not the way you came to know Christ. Surely you heard of Him and were taught in Him—in keeping with the truth that is in Jesus—“

Ephesians 4:17-18, 20-21

Then I summarized others: “Truth in Jesus …take off old …put on new …speak truthfully …don’t give the devil a foothold.”

Lessons from Ephesians 4 in Self-Disappointment

This week while reading Ephesians 4, other verses spoke to my heart:

“Be angry, yet do not sin. Do not let the sun set upon your anger, and do not give the devil a foothold.”

Ephesians 4:26-27

It’s okay to feel angry and disappointed with myself, but I knew better than to align myself with the unwholesome words of my accuser to berate myself. I shouldn’t have allowed the sun to set on my anger. It gave the devil a foothold into my thoughts that lead to destructive self-counsel and unproductive thoughts. Thoughts which at their best would create a self-righteousness no better than filthy rags, not a righteousness that comes by faith in the work of Christ Jesus my Lord and Savior at the cross.

What I needed to help me grow up was to look at Jesus and hear the truth spoken over myself in love (Ephesians 4:15).

I needed to:

“Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, outcry and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and tenderhearted to one another, forgiving each other just as in Christ God forgave you”

Ephesians 4:31-32

I need to forgive myself just as “in Christ God forgave” me.

I still think often about what I learned a couple of summers ago from our community group on 1 Peter: how spiritual warfare includes suffering, loving God and others and so much more. I shared my thoughts here. This week’s lessons on self-disappointment reminded me that spiritual warfare includes coming to Jesus for rest and leaning on God’s grace.

Putting on God’s armor is girding and arming ourselves with truth from His Word, guarding our hearts, minds and steps with the peace that comes from the gospel. It’s standing firm in our faith as we wait in prayer for God to clothe us with the kind of power from on high that can transform us into Christ’s image as we behold Him.

And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.

2 Corinthians 3:18 

It’s turning my eyes away from my failures to Jesus, My Victory.

…And having done all standing firm by His grace and His Spirit.

Much love and prayers,

Jenny Coleman

“You show me the path to life; Your presence fills me with joy, 
everlasting delight is at Your right hand.”- Psalms 16:11


  1. Anna

    Thank you for sharing your heart, Jennifer. I was having a bad day last week and was allowing the devil to fill my mind with thoughts and words that were definitely unloving and unhelpful. Grateful for the blood of Jesus who forgives our sins and the Spirit who guides us back to Jesus.

    • Jennifer Coleman

      Yes, so thankful!

  2. Tonya

    Thank you for sharing this, Jenny. Your words and openness along with the willingness to share what you are learning from diving in and studying the Word of God are always such an encouragement to me.

    • Jennifer Coleman

      Thank you, Tonya. Have had you and your family on my heart and I am praying for you 🙏🙏🙏💕

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