I think one of the hazards with aging is that it a close friend with regret. Time, more than any other factor, gives one an awareness of what could or should have been done. One is also painfully aware of squandered and lost opportunities. I would like to tell you that I am solved this challenge. Evil like to drag me to my failures. While I continue to learn from them, Evil’s play is never about learning and growing. Old words sum up what it feels like; “When troubles ganged up on me, a mob of sins past counting, I was so swamped by guilt I couldn’t see my way clear. More guilt in my heart than hair on my head, so heavy the guilt that my heart gave out.” (Psalm 40.12)
Even as I struggle to break free from regret’s grasp, I find myself reaching for three truths.
Regret can be useful. It is a trigger that creates opportunities to learn and grown. The fact that we have them is a confirmation that we are engaged in life. Each is an invitation to make lemonade from lemons of our own creation.
Regret demands action. Forgiveness is a wonderful gift that we receive. In turn, we are called to take action to address or remedy the impact of our choices and decisions. In situations that cannot be “fixed”, I hear Life calling for a contrite and compassionate approach.
Regret does not need to give birth to guilt. Learning and responding to the impact on others is the benefit of regret that continues well beyond the initial event. When we go beyond these two steps into guilt, we refuse God’s willingness to be with us in the moment at hand. It is as if I think that my failure trumps God’s call that every choice I make should give life to compassion, empathy, and community.
Today begins with old clouds threatening my view. It is hard to let go. While I do not want to ever forget the lessons, I also want to do something with them.