Not Who I Once Was

Not Who I Once Was

Do you ever think of the past? Do you ever have regrets? I feel like every one of us can answer yes to one or both questions! For me, it is a definite yes to both, and it is almost daily! This time of the year can be hard for people and is particularly hard for me due to choices that I made ten years ago. Though, whenever that voice of doubt and depression comes into my mind, I try my best to remember I am not who I was ten years ago.

Do you know that you aren’t who you were ten years, five years, or even six months ago?

At the end of each year, I try to reflect on the year and see how I have grown and set goals for the next year. I don’t see them as New Year’s resolutions but rather how I can grow to further the Kingdom. With reflection, though, comes remembering past mistakes and regrets. My mind likes to go further back in my life. Ten years ago, I got sober but I still had to face some consequences for my actions, so I spent the Christmas and New Year season in jail. So for me, this time of year is rough! Even ten years later, I still am affected by that moment in my life. It is interesting that while I am trying to reflect on the positives of my life, the enemy likes to steal that joy by reminding me of failures. I always hear, “You aren’t good enough”, “God can’t use you”, “You are still the failure you were”, in the back of my mind. Isn’t it crazy for all the good we have in our lives, we choose to dwell in the failures and regrets of our past? It is a good thing God doesn’t dwell on our past like we do!

So how do we overcome the thoughts of regret and failure during this holiday season, as we start a new year? We choose to see how far we have come since then! I heard a pastor say once, “You are doing better than you think you are,” and isn’t that the truth? We are our own worst critics and the hardest on ourselves, but what if we could see ourselves through God’s eyes? God is our biggest cheerleader and is always in our corner! He has plans for us to give us a future and to work all things for our good.

My life verse (a scripture that has greatly influenced my life) is Jeremiah 29:11, “For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.”

How do we remind ourselves of this, though, when we get into our own heads? This is a perfect time as we go into the New Year to join us for 21 Days of Prayer and Fasting. It allows us to renew our minds and focus on God as we start a new year. Another helpful way is listening to worship music because, when our attention is on God, we are not able to dwell on the failures and regrets we have! We are reminded what Christmas is all about during worship: the King of all. You will hear a lot, at The Journey, about a “slot and spot”, a time and a place with God. I have found that if I start my day with worship music or a slot and spot, I reminisce less about what I have done and recall more about what God has done. God has restored relationships that I thought my past had taken away! He has blessed me with a wife and daughter, and given me a sober mind to be able to enjoy their presence!

God has given me abundantly more than I could have dreamed of, and constantly reminds me that I am not who I once was. We are forever evolving individuals, so let’s say this new year we change to help others know a loving God; the world could definitely use more of that right now!

Stephen Vogel

Plugged In Admin Team Leader

Stephen Vogel has been coming to The Journey for seven years now and serving in Plugged In for six of those years. He enjoys guiding Journeyers through finding their next steps toward connecting with and serving others.

  • Jayme Rollo
    Posted at 19:20h, 27 December Reply

    Stephen, thank you for having the courage to tell your story, You’re right – we are not defined by our mistakes, only how we can use those missteps to further God’s Kingdom.

  • Court Neil
    Posted at 19:44h, 27 December Reply

    What a great story of God’s ever-lasting love for you. So proud of how far you’ve come, and how much farther you’ll go!!

  • Jodi Sweeney
    Posted at 09:34h, 28 December Reply

    I love your transparency , thanks for sharing my friend !! I know we tease each other but I adore you and your family and you were definitely one of the people that made the Journey feel like home . God uses you in a great way !

  • Omar McNeill
    Posted at 11:10h, 28 December Reply

    Thanks for sharing, my friend and brother. God is using your words to encourage more people than you may ever know.

  • Barbara Harrington
    Posted at 10:08h, 30 December Reply

    Stephen thank you for sharing this I myself feel blessed to know you and your family that I absolutely love ❤️ And remember his grace is sufficient for me! Keep on loving and walking for our Lord!!!!Phillipians 4:13

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