Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Shoulda, Coulda, Woulda

Is it just me or do you talk ugly to yourself, too? 

I was cleaning the kitchen yesterday and all of a sudden a thought popped into my mind.  It was a random regret I had from years and years ago that just started buzzing around my head and then hit me square in the face.  Came out of nowhere, too, like one of those big, red wasps that stings you before you know what's happening.  Pop-in visits from regret aren't an uncommon occurrence for me, though.  It would be nice if it would, at least, call first before dropping by.  I can't tell you how many times a regretted flashback will come into my head and I go to lecturing myself .  Usually, it goes like, "Ugh, I was so stupid.....why did I do that?" or something as equally encouraging and heartening.

Now, I'm not talking about big things.  Not like regretting the time I got high on drugs, robbed a convenience store at gunpoint, tied up an old man, stole his car, and led authorities on a high-speed chase until finally crashing into a group of nuns having a bake sale for their orphanage.  No, nothing like that.  I'm just talking about maybe something that I said to someone 20 years or more ago that I wish I could take back or 1,000 other incidents that I regret when I look back at them through the lens of age and maturity.  You ever do that?  Beat yourself up about little things that are over and done and too far behind us to do anything about?  Things that are forgotten by just about everyone but you. 

I was thinking about that.  The more years we live, the higher our regret pile can grow.  Not necessarily a pile of large, bulky items which would require the renting of one of those big, green dumpsters.  No, just a slow accumulation of little scraps of regret.  That person you should have visited.  The time you should've kept your mouth shut.  The time you should have spoken up for someone.  The time you were too slow to forgive.  The time you could have been a better friend.  When you did the minimum but could have done so much more.  All the time you wasted.  The opportunities you blew that will never come again.  The decisions that seemed right at the time but so obviously wrong now.  Through the years, those little fragments accumulate, one by one, and sometimes the wind catches them just right and and blows them right back in your face.

I wonder why our minds are eager to roll out the welcome mat for regret.  I wonder what makes us unable to move past former things that cause us remorse.  What about our nature makes us want to go back decades, in some cases, and lament?

Paul said, "I am still not all that I should be, but I am focusing all my energies on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead.  I strain to reach the end of the race and receive the prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us up to heaven."  Phil 3:13-14

My goodness, if anyone had anything to look back on and lament, it was Paul.  Can you imagine the thoughts that might have run through his head while he was cleaning his kitchen?  "Oh my goodness, all that persecution.....I was such a jerk as Saul!  Oh, and the whole Stephen thing. Ugh!  Stupid, stupid, stupid" (repeatedly slapping forehead) Yeah, if anybody had reason to run back in time and roll around in the stench of regret, it would've been him but he lived in the day and with a concentrated effort toward becoming better.  His back was turned to his past and his face was pointed toward what God wanted him to do. 

When the remnants of regret start blowing up in our faces, we have to turn our backs to the wind and focus our energies on living this day, the one right here and now, and living it in such a way that is better than we did it yesterday and working toward it being even better tomorrow. 

God doesn't live in the past. 

Opportunity doesn't live there either. 

So, let's turn ourselves around. 

That's where we can make a difference.



Y'all have a good one!                        

     

    

13 comments:

  1. that's a good word, joni. thank you!

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  2. Little scraps of regret ... what a good description of the things that can torment me if I let it. When I first started reading your post, I thought of Philippians 3:13-14 and then was excited to see you had thought of it, too.

    I'm so glad the bible tells us the whole story. Knowing Paul was so wrong as Saul, but then seeing how after he met Jesus he accomplished so much keeping his focus on the end-prize ... well, that gives me hope!

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    1. Yes, Jerralea! The story of Paul should encourage us all to look ahead and make the best of what's in front of us!

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  3. Good morning Joni, the past regrets no matter what it is can be a burden on the shoulders and learning to let them go is the challenge. I like what you wrote, turning yourself around and face today.
    Have a Blessed day, Kathleen in Az

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  4. Oh, how those thoughts smack me up side the head before I know what even happened. I think it's the enemy trying to discourage, deceive and turn our eyes off of Jesus. When these thoughts come, I try to fend them off with scripture. I guess it's reassuring to know that I'm not the only one that has these thoughts. :) Thanks for this post, Joni! Blessings to you!

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    1. You're definitely not alone, Barbara! So hard to leave the past in the past but you're right....scripture is a great weapon!

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  5. Joni, I have missed reading your blog for awhile and am so glad to catch up! I had a really hard time getting through Mother's Day--my first one without my Mama--and I just had to take a break from reading anything about mothers since it made my heart ache even more. The passing of time has helped (she died in Oct.) and today I was able to go back and read the blogs you wrote in May and I saw my Mama in every line, but with a smile on my face! I've told you before that you have such an amazing gift for writing and you are just getting better and better! I've spent my morning with you today looking at photos of Blair's graduation celebration and Carson's camping trip; loving the rant about the hot weather and the regret over teenage sunbathing, the beautiful tribute to patriotism, your 48th birthday (just wait till you are 68 like I am!), and the sad, sad story of missing your class reunion! My latest favorites were the one you wrote about your friend Karen's grandmother, because it reminded me so of Mama (who was 101 when she died) and the sweet one about welcoming your family home, again because it, too reminded me of Mama. (Do you see a trend here?) Today's post hit home because I have been struggling with some regrets lately and need to remember that Satan always hits us in our most vulnerable areas but God's word is a great weapon against him! Mine usually happen when I am trying to go to sleep so I am arming myself with verses to remember at those times. I also wanted to tell you that several of your readers suggested today that Melanie Shankle (the bigmamablog.com) read your blog because it is so wonderful. And to that, I would agree 100%!!! Hope you are having a perfect day, Joni! Love, JeeJee

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  6. Joni, I have been missing for awhile but have spent the morning with you today catching up! (Family crises have laid us low but we are now seeing many answers to prayer--Praise God!). Today I have loved seeing your family photos, reading the rant about the hot weather and your regrets over teenage sunbathing, hearing about Blair's new job and the boys' camping trip, commiserating over missing your class reunion, getting teary over the remembrance for Carson's 16th birthday, and enjoying the post on patriotism. My favorite posts were the ones about mothers since I am still grieving the loss of my 101 year old Mama last October. You have such a gift for writing and do an awesome job expressing the things we all think and feel, including today's post. As always, I wish you were next door so we could share a glass of tea and a lot of friendship! Love, JeeJee

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    1. Jee Jee, I'm so glad to hear from you! Sorry to hear you've had family problems lately but glad to hear they're being worked out! I'm so glad you took the time to catch up with my blog! Bless your sweet heart. I thank you for your sweet encouragement and I'd love to have tea with you anytime, girl!!

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  7. Thank you so much! I needed to be reminded of that today!

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  8. We are ineffective when we live in regret. Our enemy likes to list them before us so that we will tell ourselves we can not be of use to the Lord.

    This is a great post, Joni and I am thankful for the reminder!

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    1. Thank you, Deanna. It's probably a daily struggle for most of us!

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