How do you go back to being innocent again after proven guilty? Once grief sets in, guilt pierces your heart, sin becomes a habit, or self-condemnation appears in your thoughts, how do you refresh yourself in a way that brings back the innocence you once felt, before the problems occurred?
When a baby enters life for the first time, surely he takes his first breath and cries out from the shock of change. His surroundings are new and foreign from the life he had during 9 months of development. As human beings, we crave to feel a sense of innocence that comes from the beginning of all things, but we cannot find it again, because we have seen too much. Felt too much. Loved too hard. Lived too little. Whatever our viewpoints, most of us understand the desire to forget all past shames and grievances. We want to live life unfettered and pure. We want rebirth.
So the question here is not, how does one live in the pretense that his life is pure and guilt free? No. The question here is, how does one find the resolve he or she needs in order to step through the door tomorrow brings, as a new, fresh, unadulterated version of oneself? One without regret?
Imagine again how the newborn thinks. In this beautiful ideal, you walk out the door, view the sky as an (incredible!) unseen expanse, see the sky blue for the first time, notice the clouds as white and puffy like you’ve never known. The sun hits your face and you feel the warmth; you wonder where it comes from. When you go to the grocery store to pick up a simple item, the building has in it many great wonders: all your senses are on overdrive to identify and remember every new sight, smell, taste, sound, and touch.
Now imagine that state of thinking being your permanent self. Even a newborn’s way of thought morphs as he matures, but imagine yourself always free from the past, always free from guilt, always free to wonder. How can we do that? How can we return to that sense of innocence?
Step 1: Acknowledge the extraordinary.
Something happens in your mind when you ponder on the universe. Whether you ponder on the reaches of space, depths of the ocean, intricacies of rock formations, or diminutive yet detailed structures of cells, by acknowledging the power above and around you, your mind is released from restrictive thoughts. Glory fills your heart. God is expansive, spacious, and limitless. His creation is, too.
“This is your wonderful thought for the day: Jehovah is God both in heaven and down here upon the earth; and there is no God other than him!” Deuteronomy 4:39 (TLB)
Step 2: Enjoy your Heavenly Father’s pride.
When God sees you, he sees the person he made. The author of Psalm 139 knew he was a product of God’s handiwork. To God he said,
“You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit them together in my mother’s womb. Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex! It is amazing to think about. Your workmanship is marvelous—and how well I know it.” Psalm 139:13-14 (TLB)
When you see your life through Heaven’s eyes, it becomes clear that your life is worth living. The way a baby is pleased to please his father or mother; so it be this way with you and your Father in Heaven. By allowing yourself to feel God’s pride, like the rays of sunlight breaks through the clouds onto the field below, you will begin to feel an innocence unlike any other.
Step 3: Strip away the “clothes of shame”.
Remove that which weighs you down. If each sin or shame were an article of clothing, begin by stripping away the outer garments, the ones known to others, then strip away the inner garments, the ones private that only you know, until you have no sin left. Newborns begin life with nothing but what is God-made on them. By removing the toxic influences in your life, you will no longer feel weighed down. You will be “bare of shame”. This is not an easy task, in fact, it could seem impossible, or at least it’ll require a lifestyle change, you think. But Hebrews 12 explains it like a race we must run; we must strip ourselves of sin first, then run ahead quickly, not looking back at what we’ve lost.
“…let us strip off anything that slows us down or holds us back, and especially those sins that wrap themselves so tightly around our feet and trip us up; and let us run with patience the particular race that God has set before us.” Hebrews 12:1 (TLB)
Step 4: Delight in your moments of growth.
Once sin is out of your life, usually it finds a way back into your life. But the great part about the step-by-step process with God as your Father is that he is forgiving no matter how many times you fall down; he won’t judge the mess-ups. When you see yourself making improvements, gently delight in those moments of growth. No need to boast, in fact, sin tends to rear its ugly head at any sign of boastfulness. But by finding enjoyment in doing what’s right, you will please God and ultimately yourself, once you learn to recognize the spirit of innocence that’s in your soul.
Innocence will first come like a morning birdsong, a calling from another source, but as time goes by, innocence will be knitted into your soul. Just as God intricately made you in the womb, he can also intricately sew a new spirit into your soul, stitch by stitch.
But Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and don’t prevent them. For of such is the Kingdom of Heaven.” Matthew 19:14 (TLB)