Regret is a thief.. .
Recently, I shared A Thief Named “Regret” and was surprised by the amount of response. As a follow up to the response and some requests, this is part 1 of 4 steps to overcoming regret.
A couple months ago, I woke up thinking about Brianna (our daughter) moving out soon and was feeling sadness over things I wished I had done better as a father… . woulda, coulda, shoulda stuff. Specifically, I had wished I had been more intentional with quality time moments. By nature, I lean toward some other Love Languages so, although I have had many great times, experiences and conversations with Brie, I was having some regret over missed opportunities.
We can experience feelings of regret for a few reasons. It could be a missed opportunity, second-guessing a decision or something you did or didn’t say.
Regrets usually stem from something lost or missed and it whispers in your ear, “it’s too late, there isn’t hope”, but God has a better way than regret. Sometimes we feel regret for things that we shouldn’t. There are times when something lost was our fault, but there are times when it was completely out of our control or scope of influence. However, if there really was something of value that was missed or lost, no matter the cause, there is a valid reason for sorrow. Ecclesiastes 3 says, “there is a time to mourn.
Have you ever considered that God grieves? He has wonderful hopes and plans for all of His children yet many paths are chosen that eventually lead to loss, pain, separation or brokenness. He feels pain with and for us, He grieves what was lost.
Good Grief: When Sad Isn’t Bad.
This may not sound right, but there is a time when sad isn’t bad. Don’t deny or ignore what was lost. Sometimes we are so afraid to feel a negative emotion we choose to not feel at all. That seems like a great plan until we realize “feeling” is attached to our values and not feeling eventually means we will lack the the ability to value what is important.
Why is good grief sometimes necessary?
- Good grief is about taking time to value something in the past to learn how to better steward in the future.
- Good grief allows for healthy reflection and evaluation. Healthy evaluation is necessary for course correction. 2 Corinthians 7:12 says, “Godly sorrow leads to repentance” (a change of course). If we were wrong and missed the mark, God gives us conviction, which is an invitation to come to Him and change. We often mistake condemnation for conviction. Condemnation ends with separation from help and is the declaration of regret, “You are hopeless and a disappointment, run away from help because you aren’t worthy.” Pain, anger, sorrow and heartache, at their best, lead us to change for the better. It was after a time of regret, grief, loss and losing my way as a teenager that I truly put my trust in Christ instead of myself.
- Healthy grieveing helps us to refine and clarify what we value and what we want in the future. It can ultimately will help us to have a more rewarding and effective future.
- Healthy grief is about holding on. I love what Luke 2:17 says Mary did with early memories of Jesus life as a baby. It says she treasured and pondered them in her heart. That meant she intentionally committed them to memory, not for the purpose of sadness but for the purpose of joyful remembrance. Treasure and give thanks for what was good.
- Healthy grief is also about letting go. That sounds completely contradictory after talking about holding on, but time doesn’t stop. Life doesn’t stop. If we don’t move on we die a slow death of inaction because we stay at the tomb of something in the past instead of living and embracing Father, his purpose and people today.
- Healthy grief ends with moving forward with more clarity of vision and values for the future. By the grace of God, you won’t be the same in the future.
- At its best, grief leads me back to the Father. If I walk it all the way out, I realize whatever I lost and whatever blessing I received from it was ultimately a good gift from Him. Grief will bring me to a place I can be more grateful and connected to Father than I was before.
What was the result of sadness and regret dealing with my daughter moving out? That day Holy Spirit reminded me, “It’s not too late. Do something today!” So, I re-communicated things I wanted to her to hear and things I had in my heart. Over the next couple weeks we were able to have some intentional time and communication. It led me to seek wisdom and counsel from Father God on how to pray for her in this time. He answered.
Good grief doesn’t have a set timetable. It will cover many different emotions and feelings not just sadness, but anger, numbness, fear, anxiety and others. It could finish its purpose in just a moment and it could take a season, but remember grief isn’t healthy when it becomes a cloud we live under. The ultimate purpose of grief is not to stay in the past but to fully embrace the goodness, promises and possibilities God has for our future.
Don’t ignore what was lost. Let it refine your vision and values for the future. Do something today, even if it’s small, that reflects your values.
Trust God. He asks for your cares, burdens, hurts and pains (1 Peter 5:7). When we don’t give it to God we simply don’t trust Him with the outcome. He can redeem lost time, he restores, he delights in saving even in the eleventh hour. Revelation 21:5 he makes “all things new” if we will put it in His hands.
This is just the beginning step, not the end. It’s never too late if you start today!
Part 2 coming soon: Celebrate What “Is” Instead of “What’s Not”. Check out this article for morr on the necessity of grief for emotional health by Pete Scazzero: Why Great Leaders Are Great Grievers
BREAK IT DOWN: Process it some more with some coffee or friends!
- What is the first thing you think of when you hear the word “grief”?
- Have you ever considered that grief could be good? Why or why not?
- Do you have more faith in your ability to mess up a situation or God’s ability to restore? Why do you believe that?
- Think of a time when you grieved a loss. Did you learn anything about yourself or your values that produced growth and change? How were you different after that time of grieving?
- Is there any place of grief or regret that you still carry and have not fully put in the hands of God so you can move on?
- Grief, sadness, frustration and anger can serve to reveal what we truly value. What are some values and priorities you realize about yourself as a result of grieving something?
- Action steps:
- Write down the things your realized you value because of a time of grief.
- Share those with someone you trust to encourage your dreams and values.
- Maybe pray something like, “Father, I give you ______________(name the situation or the feelings of regret). I turn over this weight and what I am carrying to you because you want to help me. Thank you for giving me today. Show me the next step and help me to move my eyes from the past to the hope and the future you have for me.”
- Listen to A Pity Party by Pastor Evan Cockerham.