Regret is like a poisonous snake.
It usually lies still, unnoticed, harmless; then at an opportune moment it slowly creeps up and poisons the whole day, a whole relationship, a whole vision. The dictionary says that regret is the act of revisiting past events, or decisions, wishing things had turned out different. This poisonous snake of regret will always find you in quiet moments and is associated with sad emotions, guilt, feelings of failure and stupidity. It poisons you mind, poisons your hope and poisons you ambitions.
It always steals whatever joy you may be experiencing today with the regret of yesterday. It always steals the peace in your heart and leaves everything else rotten. (See Prov 14:30).
In this life, with all the challenges we face here on earth, I think regret is inevitable. We all have something which we regret. Be it something we did, or did not do. Said or did not say. Wanted or did not want. I think life is not so much about not having regret, as learning to live in such a way as to overcome or avoid regret, and moving on, from the things we regret.
Three thoughts on how to avoid regret
- Watch out for the Esau syndrome: “Watch out for the Esau syndrome: trading away God’s lifelong gift in order to satisfy a short-term appetite. You well know how Esau later regretted that impulsive act and wanted God’s blessing—but by then it was too late, tears or no tears.” Heb 12:16-17 (MSG) The end result of trading short-term appetites for long-term blessings, is regret. Many a young person has been caught in this trap and many a quick decision has had long term impact. For more on the Esau syndrome read that link.
- Make decisions carefully: one minute of foolish decision-making could lead to a life time of regret and living with lifelong consequences. These moments are like a trap filled with snakes and catch those that are unaware, or not paying attention. Prov 29:6 “Evildoers are snared by their own sin, but the righteous shout for joy and are glad.” Wise decision making is a skill not valued in our society. (Decision Making)
- Treat your relationships with care: Think about how you treat the people you care about. Never get tired of doing the right thing for loved ones. (2 Thes 3:13 “…never tire of doing what is right.”) Be sure to give time and attention to those that are precious to you. What you sow into relationships will be exactly what you harvest. (Gal 6:7 MSG ”What a person plants, he will harvest. So let’s not allow ourselves to get fatigued doing good. At the right time we will harvest a good crop if we don’t give up, or quit.”) Watch out when you have strong opinions about other people, you may be wrong and regret your behavior later. Matt 27:3 LB “About that time Judas, who betrayed him, when he saw that Jesus had been condemned to die, changed his mind and deeply regretted what he had done, and brought back the money to the chief priests and other Jewish leaders.”
Three steps to move on from regret
- Cultivate forward thinking. Thought patterns become habitual, so develop a way of thinking that is focused on the present strategies you are taking and the future, rather than past mistakes and “if only…” thought processes. Look at the big picture of your life from Jesus’ perspective, which He gave purpose and value to and choose to live it to the full. “Jesus said, “No procrastination. No backward looks. You can’t put God’s kingdom off till tomorrow. Seize the day.”” Luke 9:62 MSG
- Re-evaluate your life and relationships. Have a good look at yourself, how you behave, your values etc and make adjustments according to the Word of God. Make every effort to live right according to the Word of God. Also evaluate the relationships in your life. Are they relationships that encourage you to hold onto God and move forward, or do they influence and impact your life in such a way to prevent you from going forward.
- Fix what you can and forgive yourself. Be creative in finding ways to make restitution for your own mistakes. Say sorry where you need to. Make right where you can, or compensate for loss if you can. “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.” (Rom 12:8). Also forgive yourself, so that you can live at peace with yourself. If Jesus, by His death, is willing to forgive ALL of our sins, who are we, not to forgive ourselves.
When Jesus restored Peter after his betrayal in John 21, Jesus asked Peter over and over again, “Peter, do you love me?” Part of Peter’s restoration was about forgiving himself and finding new purpose for his future. When Peter brought his regret to Jesus, Jesus gave him a fresh vision for the future, a life of purpose: “Feed my sheep.”
If we do not deal with this snake of regret, it will slowly poison every area of our lives. It will poison our joy, our hope and our love for the Lord and others. As regret progresses in us, it produces a fruit of bitterness in our lives and this bitterness will spread and “defile” every other person that lives with us. Heb 12:15 MSG “Keep a sharp eye out for weeds of bitter discontent. A thistle or two gone to seed can ruin a whole garden in no time.”
Do not allow regret to produce the fruit of bitterness in your life.
Thank You Jesus for making provision for my sin. Help me to embrace your forgiveness completely and start to move forward my life. Help me to make changes where I need to, to live wisely and be careful in my decision-making. Help me to value the people and things that You have blessed me with and to cherish the time I have with loved ones. In Jesus Name, amen.
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