To the Woman Living with Regrets.
Hey My Friend,
Living with regrets? Yea. Me too. It stinks, doesn't it?
Maybe you have feelings of sadness, repentance, or disappointment over something that has happened or been done to you or that you have done to others. Perhaps you are looking back over the years and thinking, "Why did I do that, say that, live that, or be that?"
I just celebrated a landmark birthday, and it has me looking back at the years I've lived. I see some beautiful and bright moments. The birth of my Asher, marrying Steven, starting businesses, getting degrees, moving to new places, and many more sparkling memories. I see growth and development of who I am and assurance of what I want out of life, and who I want to be. But I also look back and see a few regrets. Thankfully, the beautiful moments outweigh those regrets, but still, they are there. Regrets about relationship choices, job choices, staying too long at places that were not good for me, health choices, and more.
I don't understand those people who say, "No regrets in life. Just lessons learned." All these regrets are lessons of what to do or not do in the future. But they are still moments of regret, and they are still hard to get over.
So I am writing to you today, My Friend, and we are going to see if we can get past these regrets together. The Lord doesn't want us living in a place where we regret the past when He has a glorious future FOR us and a beautiful present available TO us if we would stop long enough to embrace the moments.
When trying to deal with any situation, I always go to the Bible first, and Girl if I can give you two words of advice that will change your life . . . BIBLE FIRST. I've made the mistake of talking about my regrets and pouring over every last detail, living them all over again, and seeking advice from folks who mean well but left me longing. There is NOTHING like the Word of God when we need answers and direction.
So let's first go to the Word and see what God has to say about regret. After all, I don't want to give you my opinions. You can get an opinion anywhere. What God says holds weight and gives freedom.
God Had Regrets
There are a few places in Scripture where God had regrets. First was in Genesis 6:6. During the days of Noah, God regretted that He made man. A few translations say that God was "sorry" or He "repented" from making man. Another place is in 1 Samuel 15:35 where God regrets making Saul king over Israel. Again, some translations say He repented or was sorry He made Saul king.
Now you may be saying, "Hold on! God doesn't make mistakes so why is He repenting?" and you'd be asking a great question. John Piper said it beautifully, "God is quite capable of lamenting a state of affairs He Himself foreknew and brought about."
God, regretted the sin of man. The Hebrew word for regret is “atsab,” and it means “to hurt, to pain” or “to grieve.” God took no pleasure in the wickedness of His people. He took no pleasure in the sin of mankind and, therefore, He grieved and hurt and felt pain over their decisions.
What does that say to us who feel regret?
1. If God feels regret, why shouldn't we?
There is nothing wrong with hurting, mourning, grieving, or feeling pain over the regrets of the past. Feel it. Cry, scream, shout, pray, write it down, journal the disappointments, whatever you have to do. Feel the sorrow of the regret and acknowledge that sorrow.
BUT . . . .
2. Don't stay there.
Nowhere does it say in the Bible that God lived in that regret. We can feel regret, but when we live in it, when it affects our daily decisions, when our sorrows, mistakes, and failures are all we think about . . . there, My Friend, lies the problem.
The Lord felt the pain of the sin of man, but He kept on creating. He regretted Saul but sent a David. He regretted the sin of mankind but sent a Noah. He hated and mourned over our sin but sent us Jesus. What a God of compassion we serve!
3. Regret or Repent? Which is it?
So you've done some things that you know you shouldn't have. (We've all been there.) And we repent, but why do we still feel so bad? Why do we still relive those moments over and over again? It is because we are confusing repentance and regret.
Regret says, "I'm sorry for my actions. I'm sorry for what I've done. I'm sorry for the decisions I've made", but then continues to live with the guilt and remorse or even worse, continues to do the same things that caused the regret in the first place. Repentance, however, apologizes and asks for forgiveness, but that repentance leads to a change of behavior; a change of mind; a turn; and not a life of guilt.
So my question to you is this . . . If you have repented and changed your behavior, why are you still living with the guilt and remorse? Boy, that hit me in the gut!!!
I've got to say that again . . .
If we have repented and asked forgiveness and changed our behavior, why are we still living with the guilt and remorse of regret?
4. Grief and Sorrow God's Way.
2nd Corinthians 7:10 says, "For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret, whereas worldly grief produces death.” Sorrow for our sins and regrets can result in changed behavior. If you are still feeling the guilt and remorse of regret, ask yourself if you have truly repented and turned.
God's grief produces a change of behavior that leads to salvation WITHOUT regret the Word says. But simply apologizing for past sorrows and mistakes without a change of heart and mind leads to sorrow and grief that produces death.
If you are dealing with a regret that has to do with sin, ask for forgiveness, repent, change your heart, change your mind, and find freedom in Jesus
Types of Regret
But not all regret is about the "big sins." Maybe you regret spending too much time worrying about things that never happened. Maybe you care too much about what others think. Perhaps you regret not following your passions or allowing fear to stand in the way of some amazing adventures. Do you regret not taking risks, not living in the moments, or not spending enough time with the ones you love?
I am raising my hand to ALL of the above. I regret all of those things looking back on my past years. 🙋🏼♀️
I regret not going to that Broadway audition because I thought I wasn't good enough, thin enough, or pretty enough. I regret all of the time living in worry and fear about things that never came to pass. What a waste. I regret not following passions because I was afraid of what others would say, or afraid I would fail before I started. I regret not spending more time with my father before he suddenly passed away, and not remembering the things my grandparents taught me. I regret all the people who I allowed to hurt me. I regret not standing up for myself.
I have a lot of these kinds of regrets. No, I don't hold the "biggies." I never did drugs, or cheated on my husband, or any of those things you consider "big regrets." But that doesn't make the ones above any better or the ones I didn't struggle with any worse. Maybe, just maybe, these are the types of things you regret as you look back on your past. But that is the key right there . . . LOOKING BACK. We are spending too much time LOOKING BACK, Dear Friend. Why are we doing that? Why are we living in the past?
God doesn't want us to live in the past with our regrets. We can't do anything about the past.
It happened, and we lived through it.
It happened, and we learned the lessons.
It happened, and we survived.
And in this, God would say to us, "Behold, I am doing a new thing; Now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert." (Isaiah 43:19)
God is doing a new thing for us, My Friend, and if we keep looking back at past regrets, we are going to miss the new thing. Before my Dad died, he said to me, "Erika, if you keep looking in the rear view mirror of life, you are going to crash. You have got to look forward".
If you get anything out of this letter to you, the woman who is living with regret, it would be this . . . Stop looking back. Go to the Word and see that God is doing a new thing for us, and our regrets don't have a place in whatever God has in store for us.
I urge you, My Friend, to give up the regrets. Acknowledge them, cry over them, and then repent. Turn from whatever it is that causes that regret. Bad behavior, fear, loss, sin . . . Whatever it is, repent and let's change our behavior. Life is too short to live with this regrets.
When I was leading worship, one of my favorite songs to lead was "He Loves Us." There is a line that says, "I don't have time to maintain these regrets when I think about the way that He loves us."
My Dear Sister,
HE LOVES YOU, and that is enough right there to let go of the past and embrace your future. There is no life in the past. There is no life in the regret, but there is life in the forgiveness of Jesus Christ. There is new life in repentance, and there is freedom when you let go of the past, and move with the Lord into your future.
From My Heart to Yours,