Defeating Regret before It Overwhelms You - Part 2
Hello. Welcome back.
This is part 2. You can read part 1 here.
Here's a quick recap:
I'm 47. I've been married to my best friend for nearly 26 years. I have 3 incredible kids; actually 4 because my son got married, and so I have another daughter. I have a loving family that supports me and champions who I am and what I do. What do I do? In case you didn't know, I lead a wonderful church, filled with tender, powerful and compassionate people. I love my life and I'm grateful to Jesus Christ who pulled me out of a life of hell.
I feel deep contentment in my heart; but there looms, even stalks within the dark recesses of my mind and heart - a monster. And I see how this monster is affecting the lives of many people; and because this monster overwhelms, he diminishes the quality and the impact of their life. I believe this monster wants to do the same thing in my life and yours. This monster is REGRET.
Regret is defined as "a feeling of sadness, repentance, or disappointment over something that has happened or been done. It comes from an Old French word, 'regreter' that means to "bewail (the dead) or perhaps from the Germanic base of 'greet' which means 'weep or cry'" .
Putting off hope to another time sickens our soul, blurs our vision, minimizes what we believe is possible, encourages us to shrink our dreams and play it safe. Regret walks amidst our beautiful lives, wanting to infect our environment with feelings of sadness and disappointment. When I focus more on regret than a life being lived well, I'm using my energy and reasoning, dreaming to avoid a negative instead of leveraging the positive. I recently asked a friend who is 20+ years older than me, "If you had to live your life over, what would you do differently to avoid the mistakes?" He replied, "I don't live in the past." I understood the answer, but here's what I heard him say, that he didn't literally say - "One can't afford to live with regrets. It costs too much and takes you where you don't want to go. Regret always makes it about you."
The last statement is the one that got me. When we live lives avoiding regret (which is always an unknown because we are avoiding a false future that we have created with our thoughts) we are making our lives about us. A fundamental core value found in the gospel of the Kingdom is that, life is about serving others sacrificially and therefore discovering joy, contentment, and purpose. So much of the American dream is about us and therefore regret wins. Regret wins because when life is about us, we end up with feelings of sadness and disappointment. I've read articles, where people in their last days, wish they had spent more time being present with loved one, worried less, played more, read more books, gave more hugs, served other people, used their influence to better the lives of others, etc. When we work hard to avoid regret, we end up with regret. So how do we defeat regret before it overwhelms us? My 20+ year older friend gave me a few suggestions and I want to share them with you.
You can read the first two here.
Here are the last two:
3. Have Fun Now. My 12 year old and I went to get haircuts recently. He was riding in the passenger seat and was recalling a sweet memory from when he was younger, as to how he would read "Objects in mirror seem closer than they appear”. It was funny as he shared that memory with me. I bring it up because he didn't know what that mirror was called. So, I told him that it's a "rearview mirror" and it is called so, because it helps the driver see what's happening behind the car. Too many of us are living our lives by looking at the rearview mirror. Our past mistakes, failures and regrets are CLOSER THAN THEY APPEAR. We need to realize that. More often, I am haunted by what's behind me, than I am excited about what's in front of me. And the net result - I don't enjoy the moments; I don't have fun; I don't celebrate the day. As followers of Jesus, His mercy and forgiveness have handled our past and His teachings tell us not to worry about tomorrow. So all we are left with is today. We call that the PRESENT. It is a PRESENT that we can unwrap each morning. Choose happy. Choose fun. Choose to celebrate God's love and kindness toward you.
4. Say 'Yes' to God. I heard a preacher once say - "Every 'yes' is important to God. Even the faintest whisper." I have hung on to that proverb for years. When regret has a voice in my life, I don't want to say 'yes' to God. All of my 'yeses' have turned into disappointments and regrets. The only way to avoid regret is to stop saying 'yes', which is effectually my willingness to say 'no'. We must make a choice to surrender to the Spirit's nudging and say 'yes' to His invitations. He leads us through the Valley of Shadow of Death. He helps us find Springs of Living Water in our Valleys of Weeping. He guides us into truth. He reveals the beauty of Christ in every situation. He eradicates negativity. He is enthusiastic and determined to grow within us - joy, peace, goodness, kindness, etc. He convinces us right living and that Satan has been judged. He comforts us. He empowers us. He strengthens us. Just to name a few (actually about 11 things)... Say 'yes' to God. Trust His leadership. Acknowledge His presence. Acknowledge His wisdom in all things. And you will experience His leadership.
Having fun now and saying 'yes' to God will disempower regret, empower us to overcome disappointments, recapture our hope and restore our lives.
You can defeat regret before it overwhelms you.
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