As we start pulling down the calendars and getting ready to launch into a brand new year, I’m wondering if 2014 will be a year of regret for you.
Some people say that they have absolutely no regrets in life. I consider that to be foolish. It’s foolish not to learn from our mistakes and while mistakes can help to shape us and move us forward, not to feel some regret when we get it wrong is a waste of opportunity.
Having said that, I’m not a person with huge regrets. I don’t regret my ‘big picture’ life decisions but I do regret some of my actions. I regret sometimes being impatient or showing intolerance towards some people when I should be displaying grace. I regret not achieving a greater level of self-discipline in some areas of life.
Even after over half a lifetime I’m still learning and hopefully I’ll continue to turn my regrets into opportunity for improvement.
Unfortunately some people get stuck with their regrets. They let regret hold them down rather than dealing with issues and moving forward. Regrets can be helpful if they trigger change and help us to move on but many people refuse to take the next step and they live a life of regret. That regret becomes more and more toxic and robs them of the joy of everyday life. There needs to be a time to let go of regret.
On this final day of 2014 will you be dealing with the regrets of the past twelve months? Will you be letting them go so that you can start 2015 with a clean slate?
Dealing with Regret
There is a way to deal with the regret we feel. We can allow regret to remind us that we haven’t reached the standard we should have reached and then to push us in the right direction.
For the kind of sorrow God wants us to experience leads us away from sin and results in salvation. There’s no regret for that kind of sorrow. But worldly sorrow, which lacks repentance, results in spiritual death.
Just see what this godly sorrow produced in you! Such earnestness, such concern to clear yourselves, such indignation, such alarm, such longing to see me, such zeal, and such a readiness to punish wrong. You showed that you have done everything necessary to make things right. – 2 Corinthians 7:10-11
I love the fact that the story of the gospel is that the past can be over. We can settle the account with God and then move on. Not because it doesn’t matter but because God is always ready to forgive if we’re willing to put our hand up and admit that we got it wrong. Other people might like to remind us of the times we get it wrong but God wants to move on without counting our failures against us.
Big Picture Regrets
Some of the worst regrets are those that come from our ‘big picture’ life choices. Career choices, relationship choices and a variety of other decisions that shape our lives can lead to fulfillment or a deep sense of regret in our later years. You may be many years or even decades away from your autumn years now, but it’s the choices you make now that will shape the way you think back on your life when that time comes. If you want to reflect on memories of a life well lived you need to live well now.
I love the fact that once we’ve accepted the forgiveness that our creator offers and our regrets are sorted we can feel free to move ahead in confidence. That’s when we can start to take risks. Not silly or reckless risks but the kind of considered risks that come from knowing that the one who put the universe together has got our back.
2014 saw me bring up a full year in my ‘new’ job. I’ve seen the risk I took late in 2013, to leave a comfortable long-term job, lead to me being able to play a small part in releasing children from poverty in Jesus’ name.
Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.
– Mark Twain
What risks will you take in 2015? Will you dare to explore, dream and discover?
My hope for you in 2015 is that you are able to deal with anything in the past that is holding you back and that you’ll be able to fully launch yourself into a big year with big dreams and live a big life.
(This post is an updated version of a post from last year.)
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