Living with Regret
Regret is often something people live with. It is hard. Sometimes the regret is due to unrealized expectations and therefore not attainable. Maybe the regret is because a relationship did not turn out the way we dreamed. Maybe our children took a different path in life than we desired. There are any number of reasons that regret occurs. How do we live without regret? It can be a simple thing to avoid but hard to repair.
First, leave no unfinished business. No good thing should be left unsaid. Express gratitude. Always say, “I love you.” To avoid regret, we do, say, and express every good thing we can possibly can with those we love. There is never a time to whisper goodbye.
Second, be filled with the fulness of God. Regret comes when words are spoken that cannot be called back. For example, harsh words, words said in anger, or words that grow out of bitterness. They cause us to live out of frustration rather than joy. Something is going fill us. Regrets come when we burn out; when there is nothing left inside. When we fail to refuel with God’s Spirit feeding us His word, we begin to die on the inside. To avoid regrets, let the Lord strengthen our inner man. Let Christ dwell in our hearts.
I don’t know of anyone that sets out in their life’s journey to build regrets. We begin with such enthusiasm and idealism. Somewhere along the way, all that is discouraged. When it happens over and over and over, discouragement turns into despair. Despair blinds us to our possibilities. We begin to build regrets. If we can build regrets, we can also choose not to build them. It is just as easy to decide not to build as to build. Somewhere along the way we may begin to sober from our spiritual darkness. Then we begin to look back and regrets flow.
Third, living a life of constant gratitude is a powerful way to avoid regret. It is so easy to allow disappointment, rejection, and bitterness to fuel our motivations. Those vices eat optimism and hope out of our heart and soul. When we lose optimism and hope, regret will come.
Fourth, to avoid regrets we must own our own failures. We must not blame others for our own choice that produces failure. No one can make us do what we do not want to do. Our failures and weaknesses are not the fault of others. They are ours. We cannot list all the flaws of others and justify ourselves based on what they said about me or have done to me. We get to choose our response. To avoid regrets, we need take responsibility for what we have done to ourselves. When we take responsibility, we will be more aware of making good choices that lead to better results.
We can live and not look back on regret in our lives. However, most of us will look back with some regrets in our past. Those regrets do not have to define our future. Paul said, “Forgetting those things which are behind, reaching forward….” He never forgot about the regrets he had persecuting those of The Way. But he was able to get to a place where they no longer ruled or weighed him down. How? By reaching forward.