The phrase “No regrets” I think is an interesting phrase because surely there will always be things that you wanted to be different, dreams that didn’t take flight, things you wished you had handled differently, mistakes made and people who let you down.
I think anyone who has done anything will look back and have some regrets and disappointments.
True, the phrase “no regrets” could be about whether we choose to live in the past and the pain of the sadness that some of these things have caused, and no one wants people to live in that place of pain. Yet, I worry that often we encourage one another to have such a ‘thick skin’ that we become immune to these pains, which although horrible do teach us valuable lessons.
The question is how to look at the past, and even reflect wisely and critically on things and be honest about the pain, and learn from them, to be better in the future. Often we just shut the door on these regrets, to painful often to even articulate, and say to ourselves “it doesn’t matter” or “let’s move on”, but the problem is when they are unresolved they can eat you up inside, often the do actually really matter, and although we say “we’re moving on” our regrets often cause future paralyse.
There are times in the past 11 years of Vicaring, where I have had a lot of flack for things, sometimes I mishandled situations, others I would do again even though it was painful, deep down I believed it was the right thing to do.
I have plenty of regrets and sadness about my time in Kingswood, as well as many joys too, but if you go through life and had no regrets I would suggest that perhaps your dream was too small, or your heart too stony, and maybe your commitment to the cause too weak?
As we deal with this painful and thorny issue of regrets, it reminds me that we are can bring these to Christ, James urges us to “cast your burdens of the Lord for he cares for you”.
In him we have security because our value in not reliant on whether we ‘hit’ or ‘missed’ the mark, on whether or choices we popular or not, but we are loved because we are loved, because we are loved.
Yet with our regrets too, we need to find a perspective, we all like to be liked and we all like to be affirmed, and yet often we have an unduly pessimistic view where despite umpteen affirmations the thing we remember is the one critical comment, the thousands of card of gratitude we remember the old lady that unfriends us on facebook, the bitchy jibe from a friend or whatever it was for you. Again, remembering that actually we live for the audience of one, the only one in fact that really matters, Jesus Christ.
Words that are spectacularly easy to type, but incredibly hard to actually do!
Forgiveness, one of those things that everyone thinks is a good idea until they have something to forgive. Speaking on Sunday to a wonderful former Vicars wife, who said it took over a year to forgive some of the things that were done to them in her last parish. She understood something profound that forgiveness is not a one of action, but a daily walk, and on-going choice and journey, and a difficult one.
Forgiveness actually sets us free. Yet bitterness entraps us, and can -if not dealt with- can destroy us.
We cannot live in the past, but as President John F. Kennedy said: “Those who fail to learn from history are deemed to re-live it”.
Yet, we don’t have to face the past alone, we can re-visit the past again with our hand held by our loving heavenly Father -who is also the most High God- learning, forgiving, surrendering, healing and restoring.
The problem is not whether we have regrets or not, but how we deal with them, and do we deal with them in a Christ like way, do we invite him into those uncomfortable areas, the bits that a maybe confused and messy, the bits we really wished had been different.
Whatever we regret or have avoided facing, today I urge us all to find in Christ that place of security, encounter his unconditional love and acceptance of you, and then let him lead you back to face the regrets in a Godly with him.
Perhaps you’ve already done this?
The danger is so often we pseudo forgive and so only ever receive a pseudo forgiveness.
I believe God has so much good stuff to say to us, often to those deep places within us, and yet often we are too scared to allow him to speak about certain things that are deeply wedged inside us (sometimes not even knowing its there!).
So today, invite Jesus into all, everything, and let regret, pain and disappointment be taken by Christ in his nail scared hands, knowing we have a God who knows and understands the depth, pain and reality of being human.