This afternoon I happened upon a moment of solitude, and as I sat on my front porch eating some lunch and rocking in my chair I stared out across my front yard. For some reason, as tends to be with those rare, still moments, my mind wandered from this to that, and it was in this tangent of thought that memories of my past began to resurface in my mind. Does that ever happen to you?
Thoughts of another time riddled with pointless, vague relationships fueled by addiction filled my mind, and for the umpteenth time I wondered who in the world that women was. She certainly wasn’t me. Not anymore. But memories of her fiascos, poor decisions, and a guilty conscience plagued me for just a split-second. Before the blood of Jesus whispered you’re forgiven the annoyingly shrill voice of my past mistakes accusingly teased I can’t believe you did that!
If you have lived a life of little regret them I salute you. Job well done for walking the straight and narrow, but life doesn’t come that easy for some of us. Some of us aren’t raised to know better, or maybe we are, but we still feel compelled to find out for ourselves. Regardless of upbringing or whether you found yourself at church twice on Sunday every week, some of us decide to take off trucking like the prodigal son, and find ourselves far from home when we finally run outta gas.
It sure is a long haul back.
When I came back inside from my time on the porch I immediately was welcomed by a song playing from my satellite radio, and I smiled sweetly at the issuing chorus. A God Wink indeed.
You make beautiful things
You make beautiful things out of the dust
You make beautiful things
You make beautiful things out of us
I’ll be perfectly honest. Sometimes people say they have zero regret for the mistakes they have made. They say their missteps have shaped them into the person they are now. And I can get along with that. I’ll agree that I am the person I am today because of yesterday. I’ll agree God has used my past to blossom my future, and that He’ll continue to use it for His glory. But if I could go back in time and take away the disappointment I’m sure was present in my Father’s eyes when I disobeyed Him, I’d do it in an instant. Not because He asks that of me. He doesn’t. I’d just want to do it because I love Him.
You see, I think it’s okay to have regret. I think it’s okay to say, “yep, I messed up big time with all that.” I think when you can own up to the awful you can actually learn from it. Instead of saying “everything happens for a reason” you can say, “I fudged big time, but my God is bigger.”
I think it’s okay to feel regret for falling away from the Lord, and for hurting others in your path of self-destruction. I think when you can own it you learn not to replicate it.
I don’t let regret rule me. Only Jesus does that. I just allow it to remind me of who I never want to be again. And in that case I just don’t see a problem with regret. I know I’m forgiven! But I also know I’m human. I know I could fall again just as easy. I like to think I wouldn’t, but you’ll never see me take my guard down, just in case.
In the end I’m grateful for grace. I glad that grace wins over regret every single time. I’m thankful for redemption. I’m glad that He does make beautiful things out of us, but I’m also glad that I remember the jaws of the lion. That mental picture reminds me not to place myself near its pointed mouth.
I’m grateful that the sweet voice of Jesus rings stronger than my guilty conscience when it comes to a past that I cannot undo, but I also think He lets me recall it so I keep the pain of isolation from His will fresh inside my mind. He wraps His strong arms of love around me when I feel regret, but He doesn’t take it away like a magic spell. I think I lean more completely on His strength when I can still look back and see where I have been weak. And still am weak to a degree.
Is it wrong to have regret? Not when harnessed properly. If you can use it, not be condemned by it, and realize Jesus trumps regret every time, then by all means, have regret. I do.