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!