I tried to stop you but you’re already gone
If I could catch you and tell you I was wrong
Maybe my whole world wouldn’t fall apart
Maybe you’d open up your broken heart…
WHAT HAVE I DONE? HOW COULD I LET
SOMETHING SO BEAUTIFUL SLIP THROUGH MY HANDS
NOW ALL I’VE GOT IS ALL OF THIS REGRET
I THOUGHT I WANTED YOU TO LEAVE ME BUT
THAT WAS BEFORE YOU LEFT.
I didn’t always love you the best that I knew how
That’s the thing about the quiet, I can hear you now
I didn’t know how much a heart could take
Till I watched you walk away…
(Written 8/17/11 Sean McConnell /Deana Carter)
Is regret always a bad thing? Sure we need to forgive and move on…being that for ourselves and others. That is the healthy & right thing to do. But it’s also healthy & right to take a cold hard look at our actions, or lack thereof, and the ripple effect of those choices and learn some life changing lessons from them. Sometimes being truly regretful is the only condition that will constitute a real change for us. Now, I don’t believe that were supposed to be down on ourselves or harsh with ourselves or unforgiving & judgmental, internally or externally. But I do believe that the agonizing pain of regretting something, even over time, is sometimes a good thing. Obviously, it should never be the goal or the unbalanced focus of one’s lifestyle, but… it can certainly slap us into reality and wake us up to making better, ‘righter’ choices.
Quite frankly, I believe God allows regret in our lives to get our attention so we can recognize our innate need for Him, above all things, and for healthy, fruitful connections with others. He is the originator of ‘choice’ & tethered to it a conscience, which is the umbilical chord between us & Him. Actually, you could say that regret is about ‘do overs’. And, who isn’t gonna raise their hand for a second chance to do something right or at the very least, better? Regret is a ‘pinching’ or ‘tugging’ of that umbilical cord as a painful reminder that we have gotten off track and that we have the ability to make a change for the better, if we choose to.
In the Bible, James 4 talks about quarreling and fighting, wanting & not having, etc…coming from selfishness….that we are so gratuitous and gluttonous in our emotional and physical lifestyles (our humanity), that we can’t come up for air long enough to anchor into the blessings that we’re standing in the midst of. This is, no doubt, a timeless dilemma. We tend to mentally emotionally or physically focus on what we’re ‘not getting’ or ‘don’t have’ & set out on a course of un-objectivity & selfish-blurred vision, leading us to do things we regret. I’ve lived this first-hand. By nature, it is difficult ‘to see the forest for the trees’ so to speak, therefore, we can be blinded and do things that are off-base. These ‘things’ can be miniscule or gargantuan, depending on the situation, and each can lead to an outcome that is unexpected and regrettable….something we can’t take back.
But there is hope. In the Bible, Paul enthusiastically states, with no regret, that he doesn’t focus on things behind him but rather focuses on the “prize”…the things ahead, his future and hope that God has promised him & all of us, if we can admit our faults, focus forward & make a change.
I have made many mistakes in my life, some that have been excruciating but that have actually blessed me beyond belief. That is only because I’m sticking with Paul and God’s promises. Especially, God….knowing our sinfulness and loving us anyway.
Jeremiah 29:11-12 is one of my favorite scriptures. It says:
“For I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you, (declares the Lord), and will bring you back from captivity. I will gather you from all the nations, in places where I have banished you, and will bring you back to the place from which I carried you into exile.”
‘Captivity & Exile’ can be regret. I believe ‘regret’ is subliminal yet imperative here, immediately after the very first sentence of this passage. He promises us a future & a hope but says “THEN you will call upon me…” There is a transaction here. Something happened between his initial, overall promise & our actions & I believe it is a pierced conscience…. most likely by means of regret.
All of this reminds me that I am messy & sinful & make mistakes by nature, but God knows that. He actually expects me to be that way & loves me anyway. He knew about all of my junk before I ever took my first breath. And He knows yours too. He knew & knows where to put the blessings to keep me (& you) going. He never lets go of me (or you) even when I (or you) push Him away to try to handle things on my (our) own. He stands there, unmovable, the ever faithful Parent, knowing more than me (us) & loving me (us) more than I (we)
can fathom. There is not one thing that you or I have ever done that is too awful or unthinkable for God to forgive. I believe this now, due to some healthy doses of regret. And…He can also use it to bring into focus the GOOD traits & gifts we’ve been given, as well. It can be a tool to separate ‘the cream from the milk’, so to speak, in all of us.
I encourage you to write down some things in your life that you may regret. I also encourage you to write down the people’s names that may have lived in those choices with you, either willingly or unwillingly. Just talk to God about it. Tell him you’re aware of it and that you regret it and that you want forgivenes & ask for it all to be turned around for good. Pray for the people that those choices may have affected, for forgiveness all the way around & for them to be blessed too. You’ll be amazed at the freedom you will feel in the clean slate that you’ve been given to write out new chapters & choices daily in your life. It’s a promise!So see? God can turn all things for good for those who love & seek Him. Definitely for you…and even me.