For most of my adult life I have been living with regrets over the mistakes and bad decisions I have made in the past. It seems my thoughts are always dwelling on some sort of “I should have done that differently,” “if I had known what I know now I could have ……….,” or “I would have made a different choice if I had …………”
It’s the old Should-a-Could-a-Would-a thing that I get caught up in. And sometimes I don’t just visit the land of Should-a-Could-a-Would-a, sometimes I tend to live there for long periods of time. And when I go there, not only is it a place of torment for me, it is also a miserable place for my wife to have deal with me when I’m there.
Mistakes and bad decisions are a part of life, there is just no way to get around that. But I have for too long allowed my regrets over those mistakes and bad decisions wreck my life and my marriage. It is hard to be happy when you’re always dwelling on regrets of the past. And it is hard to be married to someone who is always unhappy about something that cannot be changed.
There are times when I seem to be free from those regrets. When what is presently happening in my life looks hopeful and full of potential I will usually let the regrets go. But then when struggle comes, I still go back and wish I could change the past.
Then there are times when I let the Word of God speak to me and it helps me put things in right perspective.
Such as: Rom. 8:28 “And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.”
So then I focus on loving God and living life for His purpose, for His glory, and I put my trust in the Lord. And when I do that I start believing that no matter what happened in the past or what is yet to happen the Lord knows how to use it and still get His purpose accomplished in my life.
And then I also look to another scripture that helps me through my struggles.
Phil. 3:13-14 ” Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”
Like Paul, I commit my self to forgetting my past and I focus my attention on my future and I set my goal toward becoming everything God wants me to be. And as long as I keep my focus on what God is doing in my life now I seem to keep the past in its place.
But even though I know these truths from the Word of God, when my problems start beating me down again, I have still found myself going back to the land of Should-a-Could-a Would-a. It has just been one of those things that has been hard for me to get a handle on, until now.
Experiencing freedom from regrets.
The last two years of my life have been very tough and it has brought this struggle with regrets to a higher level. Because two years ago we made a decision to shut down our business. At that time we had only been in business for three years, but the hard work and the stress of it all took its toll on us and we finally said enough is enough. Most of that decision fell on me because the business relied so much on me and I reached a point where I just had no desire to do it any more.
But that decision did not put an end to our struggles and stress. On some levels it actually made things worst. Which has led me to my most recent stay in the land of Should-a-Could-a-Would-a. This regret at this point in my life has been the hardest one for me to let go of. Everything that has helped me in the past including these scriptures I’ve mentioned only seemed to help momentarily. Until just recently, over the last month or so, I believe I have been finally set free from regrets.
It has come from a word the Lord spoke to my heart, a revelation, or a conviction you might say. He said, “every time you go to the land of Should-a-Could-a-Would-a you are actually going to a land of unbelief.” That word struck me hard and as I have been meditating on it these last few weeks I have come to understand what the Lord is telling me.
Regret is sometimes a good thing when it leads us to repentance and being sorry for something. But regret can also be a place of unbelief, because when we go to that place where regret makes us wish we could change something from our past so that our present or our future would be better, then we are placing more confidence on our own efforts and abilities than we are on God and what He can do. It is when we think we have the power to make our lives work out perfectly if we could just always make the right decisions, instead of trusting God and what He can do regardless of what our mistakes are.
I have decided to believe that God is still in the saving business. He not only saved me from my sins when I accepted Jesus as my savior, He is always saving me from myself and the mistakes I’ve made. And He has never once told me that I had to always make the right decisions in order to make it in life. No, He has said to put my faith in Him so that I can make it through the things life throws at me.
I am very hopeful now that my struggle with this is experiencing some freedom and I hope by sharing my experience with this that it will help others as well.