Living with the sting of regret

Living with the sting of regret


More than likely, you have witnessed those interviews where the host asks the guests if they have any regrets about something they’ve said or done, and the interviewee responds something like this: “I have never regretted anything I’ve said or done, because it’s made me the person I am today.” And you let out a sigh as if to say, “Are you kidding me?!” because like me, you tend to believe that every honest person will have to admit at some point or other – if only to themselves – that they do have at least a few regrets. So to have someone assess their life – and then declare that they have absolutely no regrets – leaves the rest of us wondering if it may be that they just don’t feel inclined to publicize their regrets; because when it comes to regrets, we are all too aware that we all have them!

When I look at my own life for instance, I already regret those times that I worried myself sick over some issue or other, instead of choosing to trust God with matters that were beyond my control anyway; those times that I passed up enjoying some fun moments with people I love, just because I felt driven to complete this pressing assignment or put some extra work into that all-important project; those times when I could have cared a little more deeply, listened more intently, hugged a little longer, been a bit more understanding, shown some more concern; those times when I missed a real opportunity to laugh, to share, to reach out, to serve, to encourage, to empathise and to bless.

There are people who regret getting a divorce; others regret having married their spouse. People live with all kinds of regrets: Not making it to their daughter’s recital; dropping out of high school; missing their college graduation; never getting their driver’s license; having an abortion; delaying starting a family until it was too late for them; dumping their true love; not having the courage to follow their dreams; giving up too soon; not following good health habits; pursuing wrong priorities; getting pregnant too young; being always too busy for the people and things that matter most; living their life overly concerned about the opinions of others; holding on to bitterness and an unwillingness to forgiven; staying too long in an abusive relationship; wasting time on frivolous matters; etcetera; etcetera; etcetera.

Some people carry regrets over what once was but is no more; while others find themselves nursing regrets over cherished dreams that never materialized. And I’ve found that it is okay to acknowledge these regrets and to talk about them and to even cry over them, if that will somehow soothe the hurt. But grieving can’t go on endlessly. And there must be that moment of coming to terms with what is; of accepting our reality; of choosing to press past the pain, and past the loss, and past the longing until we arrive at that place where we are ready to embrace the present and strive with all we’ve got to make it a beautiful and meaningful one.

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