Regret. It is such a painful word. There are many kinds of regret. Some kinds are good; some are not so good. You make a mistake and you regret it. You regret your mistake to the point that you decide to change your actions for your own good. That is a good kind of regret. The Bible even tells us that this kind of regret is good (cf. 2 Corinthians 7:10).
There is one kind of regret though that we need to talk about. It might seem weird on a Christian blog to discuss this kind of regret, but I feel like that this kind of regret can damage us more than any other kind. It is the kind of regret that keeps our minds away from the present and the future. Our minds become slave(s) to the past. You may know where I am going with this. The kind of regret I want to talk about is Nostalgia. I am not talking about the happy or good kind of nostalgia – our longing and affection for our past associations and accomplishments. I am talking about the nostalgia of guilt for not reaching our past goals and being ashamed of something that is currently beyond our control. Let me explain…
Have you ever seen Napoleon Dynamite [one of mankind’s greatest movies ever made… truly an outstanding movie]?? Uncle Rico, one of the antagonists of the film, is hung up on the past. He is in his 40’s and he is still dwelling on the fact that his High School football team did not win the State Championship. He was the backup quarterback and didn’t even get to play in the game, yet he is so full of regret. He is nostalgic and he lives in the past. Do you need a more personal example?
You are a guy or girl, and there is someone you have liked or had a crush on for some time. Things didn’t exactly workout for you… maybe you waited too long to ask he/she out or maybe he/she just wasn’t interested, but the other person seems to be living their life and he/she seems to be happy. You did not do anything wrong, that is just the way it happened. Everything was outside of your control, yet you are full of regret. You are nostalgic about the past. I think we have all been there at some point.
When it comes to our Spiritual Lives, we can often have this same kind of regret. We can have this same kind of nostalgia. We get hung up on our past decisions or things that may have happened to us that were outside of our control. We lose focus on the present.
I am still nostalgic about when I first joined the Youth Group at my home congregation in Birmingham. I did not fit in the first four years I was in the Youth Group. I felt as if the group had cast me out and rejected me. To this day, this feeling of rejection and internal torture has haunted me. It made me feel as if I could not escape from it. I am nostalgic about my past sins. I am nostalgic about not asking out numerous girls. I am nostalgic about (some) High School friendships. I am nostalgic about many things. But this is dangerous to my soul. Allowing these thoughts to haunt me keeps me from focusing on living my life.
All of you have something in your minds that is holding you back. You either did (or did not do) something in your past and it haunts you. Maybe something did (or did not) happen to you and that also haunts you. There are some things that are just beyond your control. Paul realized it (cf. Philippians 4). To me, one of the best things ever written down by man outside of God’s Word is the serenity prayer.
“God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”
Let’s take with us the ability to accept the things we cannot change. Let’s do this and let’s live our lives happy and free from regret 🙂
Have a great week and be happy!