I don't know about you, but I have a lot of regrets. Things I did that I wish I hadn't done, & things I didn't do that I wish I had done. If I were to write them all down, I'm sure I could fill a notebook with them. Maybe a few notebooks.
I used to compare myself to an elephant. You know what they say about elephants ... they never forget. In my mind I would relive various situations from my past ... beating myself up for having done, or not having done, whatever it was that I had or hadn't done. This is always a stupid thing to do. You can't change whatever it was that you did or didn't do in your past. That time has passed, never to return again.
You can always tell if you're in danger of reliving your past in a negative way. Some of the telltale signs are thoughts that begin like this:
"Why didn't I ...."
"If only ....."
"I wish I hadn't ...."
Some of the regrets we have about our past have maybe impacted our present. Our lives are what they are now because of something we did or didn't do in the past.
"Why didn't Bob & I listen to our parents & go to college first instead of marrying right after high school? We both could have had better jobs, & we could have afforded a nicer house, & we wouldn't be having all the money problems we're having now."
"If only I had exercised & stayed away from junk food when I was younger, I could have avoided all these health problems I have now."
"I wish I hadn't let my sister be in charge of things after mom died. She took everything of mom's that had any monetary or sentimental value, & she didn't even like mom!"
I am not proud to say it but I had a lot of thoughts like these once upon a time, & they indeed made me bitter & resentful & depressed. I was especially foolish in that I would often relive the bad decisions I made in the past & this would of course make me relive the pain of what I had or hadn't done over & over & over again.
Can you imagine Paul thinking this way?
"I wish I hadn't persecuted the Christians. If only I had taken the time to look into what this Jesus had to say, I would have realized that he was the son of God so much sooner, & the Christians I had put to death could have been alive today! Why didn't I ask God to open my eyes to the truth instead of assuming I knew it all?"
"I wish I hadn't denied Jesus three times. He told me I was going to do it ... if only I had listened to him! Why didn't I believe him? I could have asked him to help me not deny him!"
Paul & Peter probably regretted these things, but they didn't let them overshadow their present or future lives. They looked back, acknowledged their bad decisions, learned from them, & moved on.
The regrets I had/have, I was never able to do like Paul or Peter ... acknowledge my bad decisions, learn from them, & then move on. One of the things I often used to say was how it's not fair that you have to keep paying in the present for the bad decisions you made in your past. Yep ... I said that. I've grown up a bit since then : )
I learned a few years ago to not dwell on the past. The bad decisions I made, however, are not forgotten. Some of them have impacted my present & my future; some have not. I still have regrets ... I suspect I always will ... but with God's help, I will never again allow them to drag me down into a pit of despair.
I read a great little devotional from Our Daily Bread last month. It talked about Sarah telling Abraham to sleep with Hagar so that he would have the child God promised to him. Sarah was not pregnant, & she was getting a little tired waiting for God to give them a child. She decided that perhaps God meant for this child to be born of another woman. I honestly don't know where her mind was at the time. Anyway, when Hagar became pregnant, Sarah despised her. The devotional talks about how bitter Sarah was against Abraham, Hagar, & Ishmael when he was born. The last paragraph reads like this ...
"It may never have been easy for Sarah to have lived with the consequences of her decision to go ahead of God. It may have taken a miracle of grace to change her attitude, but that could have transformed everything. Sarah couldn't reverse her decision, but through God's strength, she could have lived with it differently & given God the glory."
This is what we all need to "get" way down deep inside us. The bad decisions we have made in the past can't be reversed, but we can live with them differently. God will help us. We just need to ask for His help : )
I wish you a very blessed Sunday!
Note: The Our Daily Bread devotional I mentioned above is a devotional I read when I first became a Christian. Somewhere along the pathway of my life I lost touch with it. A couple weeks ago I was in a doctor's waiting room when I found one that someone had placed on a table as a giveaway. I smiled at the memory of the pleasure it had brought to me in my early walk with the Lord & I have been enjoying it every day since. I especially like that the devotions change from day to day, year to year. If you would like to have a copy mailed to you every 3 months, they are free for the asking. Just send a letter & ask for a subscription.
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