Sunday, October 1, 2017

No Regrets

Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death. 2 Corinthians 7:10

I was trying to share some of my hard-earned wisdom with my boys when they busted out laughing. I made a choice in college to use the motto "No Regrets" as a way to make decisions. I barely got my sentence finished when they said, "No Regerts"  in between bouts of laughter.   I didn't understand what they meant so they explained that "No Regerts" was a phrase tattooed on this tough guy in a Milky Way commercial. I started laughing too.  Some mistakes are harder to undo than others.

"What do you do about regrets?"

First, decide that you are going to learn things the easy way instead of the hard way. It is foolish to always learn things the hard way if you don't have to. I explained that as I was making decisions I would usually pray for wisdom and direction and then evaluate if the choice to see if it could lead to regret. If things didn't work out, would I regret them more because I did something or didn't do it?   During a time of a lot of freedom and choices, these two words gave me clarity on who I would date, how I would spend my time and money, and even my grad school and career choices.

These two words saved me from a lot of regret but over the years since college I still have made choices that led to regret and missed opportunity.  I explained to my sons that I had realized there are two kinds of regret, one is the one that says "I shouldn't have done that.  It was a mistake and I feel bad about it."  The second kind of regret says "I missed an opportunity and I regret that."

When I am faced with the first kind of regret, that says "I shouldn't have done that and I regret it." I switch the focus from my mistake and turn it into a prayer of confession.
               "Dear God, I am so sorry,  I completely blew it in this area and I feel awful about it.   I know  I let you down and myself and hurt someone else in the process. Please forgive me and cleanse me.  Please restore what what lost and heal the hurt in my heart and others."   

As 1 John 1:9 says, " If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness."  God will purify us and forgive us.  We don't have to live in regret.  God doesn't expect us to be perfect, but He does expect us to confess our mistakes. He is in the restoration business we just have to ask him to do it. 

The second kind of regret is the one that realizes "I missed an opportunity and I wish I had it to do over."  I use these types of regrets to learn a lesson and plan to do something differently if given a chance.  My son said he regretted that he didn't go see the black sand beach in Hawaii.   I understood his regret.  During my first trip to Hawaii 16 years ago, I was surprised that there weren't black sand beaches on the island we visited. After my first trip to Hawaii, I made it a goal that if I ever went back, that I would try to see one.  Rather than dwelling in the past and on what I missed out on, I made a plan based on what I had learned.  Click here to see my feet buried in black sand.  I learned from my regret and carried out my plan when given the choice.  

Another missed opportunity that taught me an important lesson involved eye cream. Our church hosted a Salvation Army women's overflow shelter.  Homeless women would spend a week in our church. As I was cleaning up after dinner, one of the homeless ladies who was probably 70 mentioned that she really needed some eye cream for her wrinkles.  As she said it, I instantly thought of a bottle of eye cream I had bought the day before.  I rarely use moisturizer and it was the first time I had ever purchased eye cream.  I had a mental debate; I just bought it and it was twice what I would have normally spent on makeup, plus she had lots of wrinkles and it wouldn't make a difference.  My selfish side won.  I didn't take her the eye cream and kept it for myself.  The truth is I didn't need it. I missed an opportunity and chance to bless this woman who had so little and I had so much.   The eye cream is still sitting in my medicine cabinet because I only used it once.  Every time I look at it I remember the missed opportunity.  I learned an important lesson, if I every get that supernatural urge to give outside of my comfort zone, I need to do it so I won't regret it later. Though I missed out on being his instrument of blessing, I have prayed for God to bless that homeless lady with all she needs including eye cream. I keep the eye cream in my medicine cabinet as a reminder to give when I have the chance. 

My "Regerts" aren't as obvious as a misspelled tattoo but I have had them.  Knowing that God is greater than my mistakes and I am not defined by my mistakes gives me peace when I think about times I have messed up or missed out.   

If you have regret from poor choices or missed opportunities, take a minute to ask God to forgive your mistakes. Purpose in your heart to learn from them. The forgiveness and grace is waiting for you, you just have to ask for it.   God can restore all that was lost, mend and heal broken hearts and replace what was lost so that you can great every day with "No Regrets."

How have you dealt with things you regret?  How has God restored missed opportunities for you?

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