When You Don’t Want to Go Back to the Way You Were

Sharon JaynesConfidence in Christ, Identity in Christ, Knowing God, Power of Words 85 Comments

I had braces on my upper teeth three times. Count them. One. Two. Three.

As the orthodontist explained, “Teeth have a memory. They always want to go back to the way they were.”

As soon as he said those words, I felt convicted. I have a tendency to go back to the way I was.

We all do.

Karen (not her real name) admitted to single handedly destroying her marriage with passive aggressive coldness, destructive words, and disrespect of the worst kind. After her husband walked away from the marriage, she had a Holy Spirit moment and realized what she had done. Karen’s heart softened and she vowed never to be that woman again.

She immersed herself in Bible study and began to pray for her ex-husband even though the marriage was over. Karen took on the beautiful holy glow of a woman who knew she was totally forgiven and completely loved by God. Miraculously, her ex-husband saw the change, and the marriage was restored!

However, after a few years, the destructive behavior began to creep back in.

A word here.

A cold shoulder there.

A retreating into self for weeks at a time.

Ten years after the miraculous restoration, the marriage crashed and burned.

“Teeth have a memory. They always want to go back to the way they were.”

Jesus saw this tendency to fall into old ways when He cleaned out the temple. In the beginning of his ministry, after his first miracle of turning the water into wine at the wedding of Cana, He traveled to Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover.

“In the temple courts he found men selling cattle, sheep and doves and others sitting at tables exchanging money. So he made a whip out of cords and drove all from the temple area, both sheep and cattle, he scattered the coins of the moneychangers and overturned their tables. To those who sold doves he said, ‘Get these out of here! How dare you turn my Father’s house into a market.’” (John 2:14-16 NIV)

Three years later, during his last week of life on earth, Jesus came upon the unholy mess again.

“Jesus entered the temple area and drove out all who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the moneychangers and the benches of those selling doves. ‘It is written,’ he said to them, ‘My house will be called a house of prayer, but you are making it a den of robbers’” (Matthew 21:12-13 NIV).

How did the corruption happen the second time? I don’t think it happened all at once. After Jesus cleared out the temple initially, I suspect it stayed that way for a time. But one day, a moneychanger set up his table. Then another brought in a few birds, followed by a couple of sheep, and then here came a cow.

The next thing you know, the temple wasn’t any different than it was before Jesus cleared it out and cleaned it up three years earlier. In three years it had reverted back to an unholy mess.

And God whispers in my ear: “Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own” (1 Corinthians 6:19 NIV).

Sometimes I am that messy temple.

Swept-clean sinful behavior, ungodly thoughts, and jump-off-the-cliff emotions are itching to creep back in at all times. It is up to me (and to you) to keep the temple clean.

Perhaps you’ve had a Holy Spirit moment at some point in your life—a moment that caused you to make a major lifestyle change.

But for the holy moment to maintain momentum, we need to be constantly aware of our tendency to revert…to go back to the way we were.

I am so thankful that Jesus went back to clean out the temple a second time. It lets me know that He will graciously return to my messy self again and again with broom in hand.

I don’t know about you, but I never want to go back to the way I was. If you’re willing to take a few moments and ask God if there is something you’ve allowed to creep back in, join me in praying Psalm 51 in the prayer below.

Then leave a comment and say, “I’m doing it today!”

Father, thank You for never giving up on me. Thank You for convicting me and then cleansing me once I confess. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Can you think of any behaviors or habits that you have committed to change in the past, but that have crept back into your life?

If so, today’s task is simple, but not easy. Renew your commitment to clean out the temple once again. Then cooperate with the Holy Spirit to keep your resolve. Remember, God’s mercies are new every morning.


If there’s one part of the temple we women need to clean out often, it is the mouth and the words we speak! Check out my bestselling book, The Power of a Woman’s Words: How the Words You Speak Shape the Lives of Others. It also has a companion Bible study guide.



©2023 by Sharon Jaynes.  All rights reserved .

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Comments 85

    1. I’m doing it today I have noticed going back and talking un wholesome things and curse words I am going to watch my mouth and use my tongue to uplift not talk gross

  1. Sharon,
    Two years ago I lead a study on your book, “The Power of a Woman’s Words”. It had a real affect on one particular member of our study group. I had been reluctant to lead the study (not sure that I did that great a job), but several of the members shared their book with others and felt truly convicted after spending time together in the study. We appreciate the experiences and thoughts you shared with us.

  2. I am doing it today!!! Going back to my old self scares me so much that I ask for His protection against the thoughts, words or deeds that the ‘old (wo)man’ would have thought, said or done and sometimes even shake my head when one of those thoughts still creep in as I do not want to give it even a foothold to build into a stronghold again. THANK YOU for speaking these words of truth!

  3. I did it today. God is working in me for me to change. I’m a work in progress but I do make mistakes and he forgives me. I’m thank for him and love and obey him. Thank for for reminding me of that. Every time I get an email from you it speaks to my heart.

  4. Sharon, Praise to Heavenly Father for His loving, living words of truth. My thanks to you for posting this. My hope in submitting my comment, my purpose is to encourage, to come along side another struggling sister. I’ve been there and done that. I am living a struggle years long to keep my marriage, marriage with a man who is struggling by living in addiction. The one and only way that I’ve gained any courage to stay is God’s strength in me. Jesus coming faithfully to clean out this temple- me. Sisters have faithfully sharpened me, and challenged me and always encouraged me in God’s loving truth.

  5. this caught me right where I’m at. I literally just sent a text to my husband stating how I’m struggling with the same old stuff even though I’m in prayer, in the Bible, in small group Bible studies and seeking Jesus daily. it feels like a failed test.ugh!

    1. As long as your striving, it isn’t a failed test. Thought processes become habit and are hard to overcome. The evil one is always on the prowl, and the first thing he attacks is our minds. Some ways I deal with this in my own life is;

      Quote a Bible verse over and over when the old way starts creeping in.

      Sit and read a Bible passage over and over, letting it permeate your mind and soul.
      Begin praising God and thanking Him for big blessings; salvation, the Holy Spirit, Jesus, family, friends, etc., then small things: home, beds, chairs, blankets, running water, etc. I will keep a running monologue going until the evil one is tired of me praising God.

      I also use imagery, thinking of something that calms me and “seeing” that picture in my head. My image is horses. They are beautiful and look so peaceful as the graze in a field. (I don’t have any, but it calms me.) It could be anything from the beach to the sky to flowers.

      The purpose of all of this is to retrain my mind and let God transform my mind.

      I’m saying a prayer for you, Shari.

      1. Thanks for sharing your methods of training your mind to think differently and create new habits. Very helpful.

      2. First of all, thank you so much, Sharon! You always say what I need to hear. Also – we loved you at a retreat before Covid. Hint to others – Sharon is a great speaker. I am responding here also to empathize with Shari. My words to my husband need this. Also, I thank Teri for your suggestions too. I read the Bible but need to take time to meditate in it. Blessings to all

  6. Yes my words, my temper keep coming back and I’m not happy at all how I can be so good for awhile and feel the Holy Spirit and an occasion occurs with my almost teenage girls and my flesh takes over.

  7. You have been making a difference in my life for a while now. God speaks to me through you. You really spoke to me today. Yes I have reverted back to my own little self absorbed pity party. Not communicating, wanting to be left alone, lashing out at every little thing-“ can’t you close a drawer? Do you have to leave your mess all over the dresser? Why can’t you….? When I do speak it’s out of anger. I must change AGAIN.

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  8. Dear Father in Heaven,

    Please give me spiritual wisdom and a Spirit of humility. Please. Please take this spirit within me that is hindering my walk with you. I feel shame when this spirit would sabotage me and it’s a thorn in the flesh. I didn’t experience it before I got sick. I was a quiet and a humble person. Now I can be so bold and prideful. I feel so hated. Please deliver me from evil. In your precious name I pray, Amen.

    Humble and Quiet: I’m doing it today!

  9. I’m doing it today. Thank you for this convicting, sobering but beautiful and necessary message. God bless you.

  10. I will be more vigilant in speaking positively about those who have hurt me. I give my brokenness to God in The name of Jesus as I continue to move forward and do the work He has called me to do.
    Thank you Jesus for never giving up on me, always staying by my side, carrying me when the trial was too heavy for me. I love you Jesus. Help me Lord I pray.

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  11. I rebuke self-sabotaging thoughts in the Name of Jesus. Philippians 4:8-Think on good things. I’m doing it today!😁🙏🏾✝️

  12. Wow this so good. Yes lately the old patterns and ways come back in. Thank you for sharing this I really needed it.

  13. Thank you, Sharon, for following God’s call to ministry with your writing. May God continue to bless you and your family with HIS grace and love

  14. What a timely reminder!!! Just had to do this very thing this morning. So thankful for conviction and His new mercies every morning ❤️

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  15. Thank you for this message! I needed to hear this today. Going to pray over Psalm 51 – I’m doing it today!
    God bless you!!

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  16. Hi Sharon, you are an inspiration for many women including myself. Thank you for helping us focus on renovating our behavior. And also for helping us be closer to God.I have two struggles I need to work with,small little lies that I can’t be saying. And the other is being a little rude when a service is not offered correctly by any service company, like the telephone company.

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  17. Reminders of my reverting to my past mistakes and habits 💜🙏
    I checking and reminding myself not to go back…keep moving forward in faith 💜

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  18. I need his Grace everyday, for everyday I fail! Here lately its my temper. And its over stupid things, but it seems to be others that do these stupid things that just sets me off. It’s like “Common Since” is not a thing anymore. Driving and doing stupid things, and putting others life’s in danger really makes me angry. I have also had a lot of personal hurt in the last few weeks and since I don’t have a lot of self a steam, I really feel bad and think “What have I done to deserve this kind of treatment”? It’s like everything is piling up all at once. My temper has always been my worst enemy. I don’t like that person and I don’t want to go back. I don’t want to be the person who always has hurt feelings and getting mad at all things I see around me. It’s like people are just trying to see how quick I will spout off. God knows, this is not the person I want to be. I also have aging parents that I’m worrying about, as well as a brother in law that is having some health issues along with a husband that is drinking and I think my anger feeds off of his ugliness and not willing to communicate. We both assume way too much!

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      You are very brave to admit your shortcomings. God knows your heart! Here’s what I pray: God place a guard over my mouth.

  19. Im doing it today. I am a mess right now, feeling like a failure in God’s assignment for me right now.

  20. I’m doing it today. Sharon I’m sorry my church has never gotten back with you, but your devotions still are some of my favorites. This one has really spoke to me and I pray God continues to bless you and give you the words and scriptures to continue helping women like myself. I look forward to reading them every day.

  21. Thank you, Sharon. I struggle with this daily. I’m still learning to trust and obey. I want to love more like Jesus.

  22. Yes lam doing today it God’s perfect time to remind me he is control of my life and money especially with this latest issue default things of our government threatening to
    Cancel our Social security check and as I doing this got call to work tomorrow extra funds it amazing how God’s work in my life thank you Sharon for this post today

  23. Psalm 51
    1 Have mercy on me, O God,
    according to your unfailing love;
    according to your great compassion
    blot out my transgressions.
    2 Wash away all my iniquity
    and cleanse me from my sin.
    8 Let me hear joy and gladness;
    let the bones you have crushed rejoice.
    9 Hide your face from my sins
    and blot out all my iniquity.
    10 Create in me a pure heart, O God,
    and renew a steadfast spirit within me.
    12 Restore to me the joy of your salvation
    and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.
    17 My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit;
    a broken and contrite heart
    you, God, will not despise.

    I’m doing it.

  24. I needed this message today. “I’m doing it today!” I’ve actually started over last week but this is the boost I needed. Thank you Sharon!

  25. I’m doing it
    My tongue has destroyed much in the past. I thought I had overcome but a few days ago I hurled, spewed vileness from my mouth. God help me.

  26. Some root of bitterness has come back into my heart and I need it gone. I don’t want this. I am doing it today!

  27. I’ve had a hard month and bitterness has really crept in.
    I’m doing this Now! Jesus come in and cleanse my heart and my mind ~ and my whole being! amen! Holy Spirit please reside in me!

  28. Sharon, thank you for this wonderful message. I definitely needed to read it. “I’m doing it today!” Have a beautifully blessed day!

  29. Thank you Sharon for your ministry and your weekly devotions to us all. I look so forward to each one. Thank you for uplifting prayers and comments, and to all the ladies who respond. I turned 70 in April and have been saved since I was 13 yrs old. I have made a lot of foolish and stupid choices in my day, but thank you Lord that you forgive me and restore me, and using even the worst aspects of my life for your glory!
    I’m a daily progress in work. Striving to be like Jesus and thanking Him daily.
    I re-dedicated my life to the Lord in 1998. Isaiah 41:10..God Bless you all!

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      I love this…I have made a lot of foolish and stupid choices in my day, but thank you Lord that you forgive me and restore me”
      Haven’t we all! Praise God He uses it all!

  30. Are you been doing that for the past year. I am the woman you described above, but my marriage hasn’t been restored yet.
    Divorce papers haven’t been filed yet, but almost there. I catch myself sometimes, but quickly turn things around. I hope to never return to that place again. Sharon, you’re an inspiration to us all.

  31. Tonight, something I said was wrong and said in a wrong way. I knew immediately in my spirit it was wrong and I was saddened that I said that. I confessed it but I could not go to sleep. My heart just hurt that I failed, again!. I opened my tablet to try to distract my mind from my failure. After a few minutes of useless surfing, I opened my email and found this teaching. Only God knew how much I needed this encouragement tonight, needed to hear that Jesus will come again and AGAIN to cleanse me when I falter. Those words literally jumped off the page at me! Thank you for allowing God to use you to help me know His forgiveness.

  32. I am doing it today….God has seen me.through the worst moments in my life.Mould me and make me Heavenly father

  33. I’m doing this today!! I also can be on track for days and feel good about me and my journey with my Lord and Savior and then BAM! The devil takes up residence and I do not realize it at first then start feeling bad about my actions and realize it’s not the me I want to be, and remember the on track days. I continually have to remind myself I am a good person with a good heart and that people are all human with flaws just like me. Many strive like me to be more Jesus like but that devil is a sly one. Get behind us in Jesus name devil!

  34. I want to thank you for writing this informative article! I can relate to your thoughts on not wanting to go back to the way we were before. I know it can be difficult to take the steps necessary to make lasting changes, but I believe it is important to set goals and try our best. I think that it is important to focus on the present and be patient with ourselves while working towards the future.

    Thanks again for the thoughtful article.

  35. I am so that person that constantly returns to the former bad decision. I don’t want to be that person any longer.
    I’m doing this today!

  36. I am that ‘Karen’. I can’t help myself. When I see things that should have been taken care if by my husband but were not, something just eats at me. It has caused me to not love him. I’m praying for a change to take place in my heart!

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