Tag Archives: regret

To Grieve or Regret?

I caught myself grieving my life this morning.  Do you ever do that? I grieved the fact that I made horrible choices when I was younger – I just didn’t care about anything or anyone, not even myself. I just wanted to be happy, to feel good, to be loved at whatever the cost.

One of my first memories was my parents telling me, a 6-year-old child and my 4-year-old sister they were getting a divorce. I think a part of me died or at least changed me forever.  That may sound foreign to the reader since divorce is so “normal” now.  Back then it wasn’t.  There was no therapy available; coping skills were “suck it up and go on”. Because it was so hard on Mom and younger sister, I buried my feelings and told no one how I felt. That was just the beginning.

I’m knocking on the door of 60 and to this day, I look back and see every wrong turn, every decision made out of self-righteousness and self-loathing.  If no one else was going to care about me and what I do, why should I so I pursued self-destructive things and habits and because of MY choices (not because of anyone else) here I am today.  Alive?  Yes.  Saved and changed?  Yes, thank God. But I can’t help looking back to what could have been.

I stop short of regret, but grieve more than I care to admit. I think there’s a difference.  Grief allows me a healthy awareness of sorrow over things in my life.  Regret is, well regret.  I do regret – but I can’t wish it had never happened.  Regret would lead me (I fear) to resent my life, and all the things that led me straight into the presence of Jesus.  How could I regret anything?  I wish I had lived differently; I wish I had KNOWN to live differently.  I grieve the years I could’ve been different and the things I could’ve done differently.  I grieve the death of myself but I don’t regret who I am now.

Would I have been saved or had the privileges of seeing the hand of God in my life and in my son’s life had I (or my circumstances) been different?  Would I have ever written for Him, live to honor Him?  I know this:  I wouldn’t have this powerful testimony to share about a “wretch like me”.  I wouldn’t know what I know.

So there you have it – the point of it all, the beauty for ashes. All that ugly is turning into something beautiful…in EVERY life, not just mine.  Look back occasionally and no matter what you feel, see how God has brought you through it all for His good pleasure. Grieve a moment, but don’t regret.  Believe all of it has a grand purpose:  for His glory and for you to know He is the One True God and that He’s faithful to see His plan through to the end. Always.

Jeremiah 29:11-13; Isaiah 61:3; Romans 8:28; Philippians 2:13

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Surely You Won’t Die…or will you?

I think of the garden scene a lot.  Adam and Eve in paradise – or the closest thing to it on earth.  Heaven on earth.  Adam and Eve walked with God and talked with Him enjoying His presence constantly.  Everything they needed was in the confines of that existence, which is exactly how God intended it to be, perhaps even for us!

In my mind, I see hundreds and hundreds of trees yielding every kind of fruit we can think of.  I believe the garden was the place of perfection and what we all want life to be – no want of any kind and need.  I think desire wasn’t even in their vocabulary yet until that one conversation changed everything (Genesis 3).

“Surely you will not die!” (Genesis 3:4).  In other words, “He’s a liar.  He just doesn’t want you be rival to Him.  He wants to control you!  He doesn’t want you to be truly happy! One piece won’t hurt! What difference will it really make?  Die?  Pff – you’re not gonna die. “ Sound familiar?  With all we have, with everything God has blessed us with and everything He’s allowed us to live through and experience (both good and bad), we can’t seem to get to the place where we’re content with that.  Some are in a state of constant want: “If I could just…if I had…I want…if only…”.

God didn’t tell them not to partake of the tree to be mean or controlling. He did that for their protection because He knew the harm that would come to them.  He knew it would change them and their relationship with Him…and it did.  The same principal is true for us.  He knows what sin will do to us and our relationship with the Father. The things He warns against are all wrapped in “the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life” (1st John 2:16 NASB).  The Bible is full of caution for our protection! It’s not that He wants you to be without what you think you want…He wants you to be without hurt, regret or shame.

Toying, flirting with, considering doing what we know we shouldn’t WILL kill us in more than one way.  It causes something in us to die and could cause pain all around us.  From some consequences we may never recover. Are you willing to risk it?  Do you want to die?

The Giant in the Mirror

There she is again.  Every time something goes wrong, even with something goes right, this wicked monster is the first to cast stones.  She’s quick to remind me of everything I’ve ever done wrong.  Every day, I must contend with her.

Every day, she reminds me of how weak and beaten up I am and all I’ve been through.  Minute by minute if I listen to her, I’m reminded of why I shouldn’t try, why I shouldn’t believe for better and should quit while I’m ahead.  With every new day, the old stares me in the face – if I focus on her long enough, her voice overpowers the God in me.

Perhaps the most important choice is at the beginning of the day, deciding who you’re going to listen to.  The giant doesn’t lie, she tells the truth…her version of it, anyway.

She wants to keep my focus on the past and all the pain affiliated with it.  She needs an excuse to make no effort.  Not because she doesn’t believe (she does – she knows God) but because she does and she knows if I choose not to listen to her (myself) and heed His word and His truth instead, efforts must be made, exercises in faith and trust must ensue.  She’s tired.  She’s weary and she’s discouraged.  She finds very little reason to believe a single word she says or trust even a fleeting thought of hope.  It’s all justified.  Just like a victim seeking revenge on her assailant, her actions would be righteously justified.

Here’s the thing, though.  She’s submitted to God so her right to herself has been relinquished to His right to her.  Her own actions to justify herself are null and void…She’s put her trust and heart into the hands of a Mighty Savior who has already won the battle with the giant of herself.  All she has to do is believe it.  She knows she’s no match for fighting the giant but she’s sure her Jesus is more than capable for the battle of the day.  It’s not her strength against who she sees (and remembers) in that mirror that will have victory this day; it’s His.

Every single day, the choice is ours.  Who will lead you?  Who will you listen to?  Who will you believe?  Yourself or Your King?  The battle is won or lost with that one decision.  The truth is, we may have to make that decision on a minute by minute basis. It won’t be easy (the past will attempt to discourage); it won’t be fun (fighting ourselves is ugly and messy) but we will be victorious  against our giants if we choose to fight with all of our armor on – trusting Him with everything they throw at us.  Are you in?

“…even if our hearts condemn us.  For God is greater than our hearts, and He knows everything.”  1st John 3:20 NLT

Fear Will Fail You.

There’s a lost dog in my neighborhood and the other day I saw her.  When I approached her she ran into the woods.  She didn’t know me so afraid, she ran.  The remainder of the week I went back to that spot time and time again, sometimes staying and calling her name for hours to no avail.  She’s a house dog, she hasn’t been outside very much so I imagine she is terrified, in addition to being hungry and totally out of her comfort zone.  Yet even when her owners come for her she won’t come to them.

It doesn’t make any sense!  She hears the voices, especially the familiar ones, she’s hot, hungry, and knows she would be safe with those who love her, yet she still refuses to come!  Fear has gripped her and instead of doing what she knows she should do she does completely the opposite.  I’m afraid she will die of starvation and the elements to which she is unaccustomed all because she is scared. It seems she would rather stay where she is than take a chance to come out and be loved and cared for.

That’s precisely what fear does.  I know.  I’ve lived with it all my life.

When fear grips it changes the ability to think rationally and we find ourselves reacting instead of acting.  We do things and say things we would never do with a clear mind. Sometimes we freeze, deciding to stay in the mess we’re in because we are just too afraid to take a chance on trying to change things.

Perhaps we’ve been hurt – or really hurt someone else – when we’ve conjured up the courage go attempt to go beyond ourselves and we’re just too afraid to take the chance again.  Although legitimate, living that way robs us of the experience of trusting God (and ourselves) and perhaps the countless blessings He had for us.

So we stay…even knowing it’s not right, it’s painful, yet, we stay.  At least we’re familiar with how it is, there are no surprises, there is nothing expected.  We surrender to fear and decide to survive.

Fear takes our faith.  When we live based on what we are afraid of, we can’t function in faith.  They simply cannot coexist.  We must choose one or the other.  If we choose fear before long, our hearts and minds are infiltrated and we’ve convinced ourselves it is the way we think it is, and hope fades.  We someday will realize that living in fear has totally failed us and robbed us.  Soon we’ll find ourselves in an ocean of regret, pruning and nourishing our bitterness and despair.

Let’s decide today that we’ll no longer be our own prisoner.  Let’s take a tiny step forward to the safe hands and presence of the One who loves us the most.  The first step is the hardest, the next will be a little easier.  Let’s trust as we walk straight into His arms.  He will never fail us.  He’ll comfort us and help us through whatever we’re afraid of.

Unlike that little dog (who is still in the woods by the way), when you hear His voice, take a chance and step out.  You’ll be glad you did.

Luke 21:34:  “Be on guard so that your hearts will not be weighted down with dissipation and drunkenness and the worries of life, and that day will not come on you suddenly like a trap;”

Keep Doing You.

I love to write but I’m not the best writer.  I write because it’s therapeutic, especially when I pen a devotional because God always gives me a lesson and I’m eager to share it.  I don’t share because I’m an authority on the Word nor do I think my point of view is the only one that’s important.  I share what God’s given me hoping it will provide insight and blessing to those who take the time to read.  (Thank you, by the way, if you do!)  Almost without exception after I hit the post button, I can find many things I could have/should have rephrased.

I never, ever see perfection in anything I produce.

What I do in my life is the same way.  When I review and reminisce I always see something I could have done better and often wish I had.

Some are excellent at what they do.  When we look at their accomplishments, we see nothing but pristine excellence and find ourselves feeling like a less than.  No one has to point out our lacks or faults, we have at least perfected that art; we know every one of them by heart.

That’s what happens isn’t it?  Sometimes others are quick to point out our flaws; one critical word amongst a thousand positive accolades is the word we hold on to.  Then other times, we’re doing our thing the best we can and we take our eyes off our work and look to someone else’s to see how great theirs is then become less satisfied with what we’re doing.

Stop it.

You may not be the best dancer; dance anyway.  You may not be the best singer; sing anyway.  You may feel like you’re inferior to everyone around you but if you’re doing the best you can and doing it because you love doing it, keep doing it.  Keep being you.  The people who love you will ENcourage you not DIScourage you. Those who really love you want you to be you.  You’re a unique one of a kind gift to the world and you’re exactly where you are, doing exactly what you’re doing it the way you do it to be a blessing to those around you.

Be you today.  Do you today.  Nobody can do you, like you.

The Painful Question

“Do you love Me?”

How that question must’ve cut Peter to the bone.  I wonder if his mind went back to the words spoken just before the events began to unfold:  “you will deny me three times…” (Mark 14:30).

I wonder if Peter relived that moment at the predicted third betrayal when Jesus looked at him (Luke 22:61).  The words must’ve cut like a knife.  Why would He even give Peter the chance to respond?  Didn’t his actions say he didn’t?  He had failed Jesus miserably.  How could he answer?  I imagine just attempting to answer was excruciating.

Wasn’t it enough that Peter had failed his Lord at the most critical time?  I mean by actions, by what Peter had done and said (denied Christ) you would think his fate was sealed.  Game over – all that teaching, healing, following; all those miracles he was witness to – that life – was finished because he had let Jesus down.  He committed the unpardonable sin – he denied Christ…and he did it believing he wouldn’t!

Yet after Peter had gone back to his familiar life “BC” Jesus waited for him and the other disciples on the shoreline.  He knew His Peter; Jesus knew where to find him.  He asked him three times if he loved Him – I believe – to allow Peter to get what was between them (in Peter’s mind and heart) taken care of so he could know he was forgiven.

I love this story.  It’s a beautiful example of the forgiveness and personal affection Jesus had for Peter…and has for us. How many times have we failed?  We may not have denied Christ as obviously as Peter did – we may not have shouted the words “I don’t know Him” – but at some time or another we’ve all fallen short of loving Him.  We’ve treated people badly, we’ve willingly done something we know is wrong; we’ve essentially said, “Lord I know this doesn’t please You.  You say this is wrong but right now I love me more than You and I want this more (than I want to please you) so I’m doing it” which is the same thing.

Then after the choice is made and regret and/or remorse sets in you’re feeling the sting of knowing you messed up. But look.  There He is, waiting for you to come to Him and settle it. Do you love Him?  Say it.  Are you sorry?  Say it. Let His words cut you deep so that you have to go to Him and settle it. He’s waiting.

Access: DENIED

 

I’ve let you in before thinking I was strong enough and all would be fine and I’d live happily ever after. I’ve seen you through rose coloured glasses and convinced myself I was wrong; you couldn’t be “that bad”…to my regret.

I’ve been in the position where I had to consort with you to survive and to keep those I loved safe. I played along thinking I would get through it unscathed and no harm would be done. I thought I would be ultimately untouched because I was just…playing; playing the game I had to play to live through it. I thought I manipulated the great manipulator to my advantage. Perhaps I did, I don’t know.  But I do know I survived.

Turns out, I was wrong. The wounds oozed nasty things like bitterness, hate, resentment, depression, regret…for a long, long time. My success in surviving a lifetime of pain was almost my failure. The pain and memories, for a time, were relentless and haunting.

I thought I had to stay wounded; stay pitiful; stay a victim. I don’t think that any more.

We will dance no more.

Your access to my life…any part of me…(unless allowed by God Himself)…is denied.

I deny you access into my mind. I deny you access to touch my now-healing wounds. I deny your presence in any area of my life. I am no longer your victim; I am His victor.

He protects, strengthens and renews me and if He’s the door you must go through to have any access at all to any part of me, my life, my family you can’t get through. Many times a day I may have to seek His protection and when I do that door you walked through before is no longer opened. Access denied. Anger…access denied.  Depression…access denied…hopelessness…access denied…any way you think you can get in…any way you might have gotten in before, is denied.

I have to ask Him to be all those things in all possible ways of entry and I serve you warning:  I have.

He is.

So, access denied.