REGRETS, I’VE HAD A FEW
On Saturday, February 3, 2018, family and friends gathered for the memorial service of my brother, Toney John Schmidt. Only 50 years old, he succumbed to a more than four-year battle with cancer of the brain. Toney wanted two songs played at his funeral – “I Can Only Imagine,” (Casting Crowns) and “I Did It My Way” (an old Frank Sinatra version with Toney signing along). The latter seems unusual unless you knew Toney.
As I listened to this line, “regrets, I’ve had a few, but then again, too few to mention,” I thought it sounds like a man wrote that. Am I right, ladies? I, personally, have been robbed of sleep many nights while my brain went over some recent thing I wish I had not done, or something as long ago as my teenage years. My mind will offer up every sin, stupid decision, and unkind word or perceived parenting failure that has occurred in my last nearly 60 years. I’ve never heard a man complain about this phenomenon, but many of my sisters in Christ have expressed having endured the same thing.
That is not to say that men or women have more things to regret or that men don’t feel regret for things they have done. It is just that, as women, for some reason, we do this to ourselves. Something unique about the female brain, I guess.
But I believe God wants us to let go of regret and move forward, having set it aside. If we don’t, I believe, it cripples our present happiness and future growth.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not in the court of “I regret nothing in my life because it all made me who I am today.” No, given the chance, while I may appreciate the lessons learned and character built, I would gladly erase some of my mistakes and trials.
The point is that we have to let go of it so that we can move forward. It seems pretty clear that the Israelites regretted believing the evil report about the Promised Land. Forty years wandering in the wilderness must have been a bitter pill to swallow, when they were told God’s judgement. Instead of accepting God’s punishment and moving on, they tried to act on their own with even more disastrous results. [Numbers 14]
Esau regretted giving up his birthright for a bowl of stew, but had a hard time bouncing back from that. [Hebrews 12:16-17]
You want to study bouncing back from mistakes instead of wallowing in regrets? Study the life of David.
Here are a few examples:
- When David neglected God’s guidelines for moving the Ark of the Covenant and Uzzah died as a result [2 Samuel 6:1-19]
- When David numbered the people, against the advice of Joab [2 Samuel 24:1-17]
- When David committed adultery with Bathsheba and ordered her husband to be murdered to cover it up [2 Samuel 11:3-12:24]
David could not undo the things he had done and he did suffer consequences, as did his family. However, I think we can see that David didn’t let the regret hang on and cripple his future. God, in some cases, administered pretty severe punishment for David’s actions, but He seemed to expect David to accept the results and move forward. It seems like David did.
I was with my mother several times during the last weeks of her life, when she was unresponsive, but Hospice warned us that she might still be able to hear us. Toney was in Hospice only a matter of days. So, I was only able to visit him one time. In both cases, family and friends came by to offer love and encourage peace and create a safe environment for letting go of this life. We whispered recollections of happy times.
The next evening, after visiting Toney, I was lying awake, wondering what he was thinking and praying that he was remembering the first time he held his children Chris and Jade, and the laughter of his granddaughters, coaching that little league team to the championship, playing basketball for hours and hours and hours with our youngest brother, eating 50 different Thanksgiving dinners surrounded by the smell of turkey and pumpkin pie and the laughter of family, when I got the text that he died.
My brother, during the last months of his life, did spend some time apologizing to people he felt he had wronged. He offered apologies and asked forgiveness of family and friends. Toney acknowledged mistakes but clearly did not live a life of regrets. I believed he’d already previously made apologies, but wanted to do it one more time.
Reaching out to someone I feel I have wronged is something I know I won’t regret. It is part of Christian growth. Letting go of regret is an important part of the process of Christian growth as well. So, I try to make my apologies as the sin or mistakes are pointed out to me. I hope I’ll be able to put aside those late night sleep-robbing recollections of things I wish I’d never done.
And if the time comes when I know the end is near, I hope my final thoughts are of the love I shared with family and friends, of the moments there was laughter and joy, encouragement and peace, the smell of a newborn baby’s breath and the sight of tiny little fingers and toes, Thanksgivings with family, the sight of brilliant sunsets and the smell of the salty ocean air of my childhood vacations, rather than the recounting of my mistakes and regrets in my own mind.
But even if my last thoughts are of a regret or mistake, I do know that the next waking thought will have no regrets. Jesus’ sacrifice wipes away all sin and its resulting regret. God sent Jesus to the earth to do just that. And when I see His face, I know He will say, “I don’t regret it at all.”
Thank you, God and Jesus for an eternity of no regrets.
I welcome your thoughts, comments and questions. You can write to me at Nancy@DynamicChristianMinistries.org.