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Many of us get to a stage in life when we look back and think about certain things we wish we had done, and may also regret doing things we wish we had not done. We may wish that we had made some different choices or that things had turned out differently.
If this is too personal to share, perhaps try to share the feelings that come from this experience.
Often our lives take a certain journey because of the life situations we find ourselves in and we may regret the course our lives have taken at times. There are so many things that we could possibly live in regret over due to the shaping of our lives from that point on.
Val and David Jones have been officers for many years and have dealt with many people whose lives have been shaped by others and who live in regret. One day David went to visit a lady who was known to be very difficult and openly hostile towards men. While visiting this lady David heard the story of a father who had neglected to keep this lady safe from the hands of a sexual predator when she was only a child. As David listened to the sad story unravel he could see why this lady could not even cope with a man shaking her hand, let alone embracing her. The lady pushed people away and regretted doing this but had no other way of coping with everyday life and the anger had become all-consuming. David spoke about forgiveness with this lady but she struggled to forgive the father. She regretted being born into a family that did not keep her safe. The lady lived a life of regret at not only her abuse but how she had subsequently lived a lonely, angry existence since being a child.
Forgiveness is hard, especially in such difficult circumstances. Val and David believe that when you forgive it does not mean that you forget the situation you have lived through, or that you dismiss the offence as unimportant but that it does not consume you anymore. Val says, ‘We must all journey to forgiveness for the wrongs that have been done to us. You must take the journey to forgiveness to be free.’
For many the journey to forgiveness may have taken such a long time that the person you need to forgive has actually died and you are unable to speak to them personally. Val encourages the writing of letters in such situations. This is a therapeutic way to deal with feelings of hurt, feelings of regret and feelings of disappointment. Val encourages this letter then to be
burned, shredded or ripped up or as David puts it, ‘Post it in the post of no despatch.’
The idea of writing a letter can also be used to write the things you wish you had said to someone you loved but never had the opportunity. Regrets come in many forms,
…and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us.
We may also regret things that we have left undone, things that we dreamed of achieving, relationships that were not all that they could or should have been. We may regret the way our lives have turned out. You are reading this and are a part of this group so irrespective of what your life has been up until now and whatever regrets you carry, your life is not over and God still has plans for you. They may not be the fulfilment of the dreams you had in your youth but they are God’s plans and they will not be found wanting.
Relationships can be restored, it may not be easy but there are possibilities and your responsibility is to do what you can. When you have done what you can but the other person continues to hold a grudge ‘let it go’.
If after all you have read and thought about you still have in your mind regrets about the way things have turned out, then try and give yourself a break. Release that which holds you back and try to move on. We cannot live in the past, we cannot continuously look back with regrets, we bring them to Jesus and then we move on. We look for a new relationship with him that underpins and forms the basis of all other relationships and all we do and hope for.
With grateful thanks to Lt Cols. David and Val Jones
Father God, help us to live each day in the fullness of your love, light and freedom. We lay at your feet our feelings of regret, the feelings of bitterness and the feelings of disconnect with others. From this moment on we choose to live full lives, free from the feeling of regret, free from the ‘what ifs’ of life, safe and secure in your love. Amen