Don’t let your regrets pull you under

Sinkholes spook me. Especially the largest one—regret. It sucks us all in sometimes.

“Man, I wish I hadn’t done that,” I’ve said, all too often. If I permit myself to dwell on them, I’d spend entire days gnawing on the big things I would change about my past if that were possible. I’d include the thousand little things that would have made a difference to beloved family and friends. The conversation I waited too long to have. That thing I did or said and shouldn’t have; and the one I should have, but the perfect moment melted like snow in my palm. The embrace I should have given, the note I should have written, the visit I never made.   

The regret pit, like most sinkholes, grows. If I loiter long at its edge, eventually I sigh and toss in a few more regrets. The small repair—relationship and other—I should have made before it became too large to do so. The organization I should have joined, but didn’t. The possession I bought, but shouldn’t have. The small weeds I should have eliminated before they took over. The notes of thanks to people who don’t know that in some small way they changed my life for the better. 

But a nudge from the Holy Spirit reminds me I have options. I could devour all the chocolate in the cupboard in one go, then dive into my personal regret pit and let it take me down. Or I could shove away and remember who I am—and who I belong to. A believer, a child of Jesus. The Saviour, who when I ask, is able to forgive every act I bring to him in repentance.

Regret, I’ve learned, is a subtle form of pride. Like pride, it’s never productive. So I choose to change my focus. Yes, I have a pit of regrets, but I don’t need to spend my life sulking on its perilous edges. Dwelling overlong on an unchangeable past denies me the present and future that God, because of His forgiveness and amazing grace, guarantees. A life of freedom and joy, released from regrets.

The Apostle Paul who, before his dramatic conversion, persecuted Christians to their death, had more cause to regret his past than most. When physically confronted by the blazing light of Truth, he repented and turned. God not only covered Paul’s past with mercy and grace, he did something even more astounding. For centuries, he has used Paul as an example of his love and patience with sinners like me and you. 1 Timothy 1:16 explains it in almost those exact words.

If you’re poised on the edge of your own pit of regret, know this: whatever your past, God is able to do the same for you. So when Satan invites you to chew on the bitter husks of past regrets, take them to Jesus and exchange them for a sweet feast of grace and forgiveness.

That’s even better than chocolate.