“Many of us crucify ourselves between two thieves – regret for the past and fear of the future.” Fulton Oursler (1893-1952), American playwright
Have you ever done something that you regretted? Or perhaps regretted something that you did not do? I have, and the feeling is horrible. You keep running the situation over and over in your mind, trying to figure out how you could have acted or done it differently, kicking yourself that you did not make a different decision. Sometimes you even let it consume you, eat you up inside, especially if the decision you made hurt another person. Or worse, the decision you made was such that you can never make it right.
Regrets can do that. They can burrow deep into your soul, reminding you of your failure, affecting your whole sense of worth and value. We so desire to do things right, that we forget that we are imperfect, and cannot help it that sometimes we do things wrong. I wonder, though, if this desire to do right comes from a place deeper within, in which our very soul still yearns for a Godly perfection, which was lost so long ago. Perhaps this is the true area from which regret springs.
So what to do? How can we rid our life of regrets, of the reminders of when our choices led to some sort of failure? Sadly, the only way to rid ourselves of regrets is to either stop making choices in life, or stop feeling altogether. Both can lead to a life devoid of meaning, where selfishness rules the day. We regret because we were created for a purpose; we regret because we feel. What kind of world would this be if people refused to acknowledge either?
Regrets are merely reminders that we need to maybe learn to do life differently, to do it better. We are given glimpses into what could have been, evidence that our life’s possibilities are not static and determined. Regrets help us to feel, so we are then motivated to do. Perhaps we need to understand that expecting perfection from an imperfect creation is a fool’s errand. Perhaps we could be gentler with ourselves, and focus on making the future right choices, rather than constantly reflecting on the past bad ones. We have control of our future, not our past, so how does obsessing about what we did make the world any better for it? Spending more time on what we cannot change instead of learning what we can change is a sad thing indeed.
As a follower of Jesus, I am told that the price for my imperfections was paid. I am told that in my weakness He shows His strength. I am told that God already knows that I am going to mess up, but that it is the race towards Him that matters. So, how can I possibly run that race if I spend my time always kicking myself?
We were created for a purpose. Never let life’s failures do anything more to you than teach you how to be a better person. Regrets will rob you of God’s grace if you let them. And once you lose that, you are apt to lose everything else.
“Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining towards what is ahead, I press on towards the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenwards in Christ Jesus”. Philippians 3:13-14, The Bible