Here are 5 ways you can overcome feeling like damaged goods.
1. Avoid Trying to Deal with Your Past in Your Own Way
Denial, defensiveness, despair – these are often the ways we deal with the sins in our past. But if you want to be in a successful Christian relationship one day, you will need to deal with your past sins not in your own ways but in biblical ways.
When you don’t let Christ deal with your past, you will feel like all you can do is just suffer now because of what you did then. While there are consequences for our choices, God’s grace is greater than we think.
Another bad approach that some people take is that they actually lie about their past. People may lie about past sexual sins, people may remain silent and never tell anyone about an abortion they feel terrible about now, or people may just pretend a certain season of rebellion in their past never happened.
Staying in the darkness always leads to more pain. There’s a better way. No matter what we’ve done in our past, God’s grace truly is enough. For as Romans 5:20 states, “Where sin increased, grace increased all the more.”
2. Confess, Repent, and Be Transformed
There’s nothing you can do to change the past. In our human strength, we will be forever defined by our past decisions. But this is where the beauty of the gospel can be seen so clearly. God does not retroactively change our past, but he does substitute our past with Jesus’s past.
Again, we cannot change the past, but this also means we cannot change what God accomplished through Christ on the cross in the past. The salvation Jesus purchased on the cross in the past cannot be changed. When you confess your sins to God and when you repent of your old ways by turning back to God, the Bible says we are transformed into a new creation.
Galatians 2:20 states, “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me.” 2 Corinthians 5:17 says, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!”
You must fully embrace these truths. You are not damaged goods because you are no longer defined by your past. Our only hope is to be made new. We can’t change our past. We can’t bring the dead back to life. But when we put our faith in Jesus Christ, God does make us alive with Christ. We do get a new past. We get Christ’s righteous past forever.
To overcome feeling like damaged goods, you have to fully embrace the objective truth that you are a new creation in Christ.
3. Fully Accept That You Are Not Your Sin if You Are a New Creation in Christ
When you read Galatians 2:20 in its entirety, it reads, “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”
As a new creation in Christ, you must live by faith. But what does that mean? It means that as you live on earth, your sin nature and your new nature both exist in your earthly body. But you are not your old nature, and your new nature will control your body when you actively walk with Christ through faith. The more you remember the truth of who you really are in Christ, the more you will feel the newness of Christ in you too. In Romans 7:19-25, Paul explained all this by saying:
“For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. 20 Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.
21 So I find this law at work: Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me. 22 For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; 23 but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me. 24 What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? 25 Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!”
Notice that in Romans 7:20 Paul said something profound and truly life changing, “it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.” Paul is showing us that we are no longer our sin. You are no longer the sins of your past. You are someone totally different than the person who did what you are ashamed of then. You are not your sin.
Paul then explains throughout Romans 7:21-25 that there is a war in our body. The old self and the new self fight for control of our earthly body. And sometimes, we can feel really defeated because the sin nature takes over. We can feel like a wretched person. So what should we do? We must remember that Jesus still saves, we are still new in Christ, which is why Paul says, “What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!”
So when you are reminded of your past sins and you begin to feel like damaged goods, remember the truth: that you are not your sin. You are the new person, born again through Jesus Christ.
4. Remember that You Are in the Process of Sanctification and No Matter What Happened, You Are Still Not Your Sin
One problem that complicates the truths we just talked about is that many times, Christians actually do things they are ashamed of even when they are already saved. It’s a bit easier to see how someone who got saved after they did something shameful in their past is a new creation, but what about Christians who did something they are ashamed of in their past even though they were a Christian at that point?
First off, anytime we sin we must still remember what Paul said in Romans 7, that we are not our sin. If you truly are saved, you can never lose the salvation and grace God has given you. If you choose to abuse God’s grace and do not live for him and do not repent of sin, then this is evidence that you were never truly saved to begin with. But if you are saved and you do something you really regret, do not believe the lie that you have lost the newness of life God has given you.
People often think of Christianity as a second chance. But Christianity is not about second chances because the amount of chances we have is not our problem. If God gave you and me more chances but did not change our identity, we would end up doing the same things because we are the same people. No, Christianity is not a second chance, it is our only chance of being saved for ever. It is a guarantee by God that he who saved us will never leave us nor forsake us as Hebrews 13:5 promises.
So if you have sinned and are ashamed of what you did even when you were a Christian, remember that you are still being sanctified. You are new, but now you are in the process of learning to live from that new nature, which is called the process of sanctification. Hebrews 10:14 says, “For by one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy.” You are perfect and you are being made holy.
What you did in your past is not who you are. God is continuing to transform you, for as 2 Corinthians 3:18 states, “And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.”
5. Look for Someone Who Sees You as a Shared Partner in the Gospel, Not as “Goods” to Be Used
If someone does think you are damaged goods and they can’t understand how real the gospel actually is, the reality is you don’t want to be with a person like this anyways. You do not want to be with someone who sees you as a possession to own, a perfect idol to worship, or just a pretty face to flaunt to the world.
Rather, you want to be in a relationship with someone who understands what God intends for a Christian husband and wife. God tells us in 1 Peter 3:7 that a marriage is a partnership between you and your spouse. A husband and wife are both “heirs” “of the gracious gift of life” that God grants through the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Marriage is not supposed to be about celebrating human perfection. According to Ephesians 5:22-33, it is supposed to be a husband and wife celebrating the newness of life God has granted them both through the gospel, which saves imperfect people and substitutes their flaws with Christ’s perfections.