Here’s our final perspective about dealing with regrets: “Remember But Look Forward.”
God’s message is, “Do not cling to events of the past or dwell on what happened long ago. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland.” (Isaiah 43:18-19 NIV)
God doesn’t want us to be “yesterday” people; He wants us to be “today and tomorrow people” because that’s having a vision. As Paul Fulkner said, “Don’t waste a lot of today’s energy trying to untangle lines that got tangled in your yesterdays. Cut line and get back to fishing.”
We can “get back to fishing” by understanding what might be holding us in regrets. Another way to say it is: what am I gaining by holding onto regrets?
This is an unusual perspective, one that I’ve been learning in the past couple of years. It works like this. All of us make choices based upon what we think will work for us. We can never say, “I didn’t have a choice; they made me do it.” We are held responsible for every decision we make; plus, God’s Spirit is always available to empower us to make a godly choice.
So we can never say, “I can’t overcome my regrets” as if some entity is holding us captive. And we must see regrets as sin because we’re rejecting God’s promise of forgiveness, cleansing, and “a new thing.”
As a result, we are choosing to wallow in the sin of regrets because it seems to offer us something good. Just as Satan offered Eve what she thought would be for her good, Satan whispers in our ears that “regrets do something good for you.”
What could that be?
How about a sense of control? To accept God’s forgiveness puts Him in control. We are then dependent upon Him. But regrets reject God’s control and say, “I’m going to have it my way. I’m in control of whether I feel bad about my choices.”
How about a refusal to possibly put our well-being in the hands of another? If we release regrets by asking others to forgive us, it might seem dangerous because we think that puts us in the control of others. If I ask someone to forgive me, they might think they can mistreat me. Or they’ll misunderstand my action and use it against me.
How about having a wrong sense of humility? Continuing to be regretful makes me look as if I’m humble. Other people think well of me because I appear a humble person who is upset about my wrong-doing.
All these possibilities go to the heart of our motives. Every choice we make springs from our beliefs of how to have our needs met. Can you think of any other motives for staying in regrets?
What are you regretting? Can you look to the future instead? Any regrets can be covered by Jesus’ redeeming blood. We can choose to reject regrets and bitterness. God wants to provide the hope and power we need. Let’s make a commitment to refuse trying to untangle the knots and instead cut the line with forgiveness and a renewed perspective of hope. Then we can join the apostle Paul when he says,
“Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:14-15 ESV).