Hello, My Name is Regret

pansyHave you made mistakes with your kids that you have a hard time releasing? Failed to love or protect them as well as you wish? Said dumb things to loved ones in moments of stress that caused hurt that you didn’t intend?  I’ve had so many moments like that in my life– times when looking back I wish I could have handled things with more wisdom and grace.

Just one example:  when our oldest son was a senior in high school, he had a particular college in mind.  We waited until January to check out that college’s admission requirements. Turns out it’s one of the most homeschooling-UNfriendly schools in the nation.  To apply as a homeschooler, he should have taken two classes at a local college during high school. If we’d looked 6 months sooner, he could have easily met those requirements.  But we were too late. And he was a National Merit Scholar, for pity’s sake.  He should have been able to go to any school he wanted.

God worked it all for good in the end: Jared ended up going to a local (much more affordable) college, where he’s met some wonderful Godly friends and has had a great debt-free college experience.  He is set to graduate this next spring with a degree in computer science, and already has a job offer on the table. But, oh, I felt bad for a good long time over that mistake.

I’ve heard that people tend towards one of two extremes when hard things happen in their lives.  Some folks take all the blame on themselves, whether they should or not.  Others cope with difficulty by placing all the blame on others, which tends to be just as inaccurate.  I definitely tend in the first direction. In reality, my son could have looked up those college requirements just as easily as I did.  But as the mom, I felt like I should have been the responsible one, and it took me awhile to give myself grace for that mistake.

I tend the same way when there’s a rift between me and another person.  I know a relationship takes two people, and my efforts alone won’t fix things if the other person isn’t game to do their part, no matter how hard I try.  But wow, I kick myself for any interactions I could have handled better.

So — how to get past that feeling of regret and move on in a productive way? I think it comes down to four things.

First, of course, I need to face where I went wrong and make amends to the best of my ability.  I also need to remind myself of my intent in the situation.  Did I mean to let that person down?  Almost uniformly, the answer is no.

Next, I need to remind myself to move forward.  I can’t change the past, so there’s no use dwelling there.  But I do have the power to make wiser choices in the future using what I learned from this difficulty.  These days you can bet if my kids express interest in a college, we’re going to look up admission requirements!

Third, I need to remind myself that my value in God’s eyes has nothing to do with my performance.  It has nothing to do with another human’s feelings about me.  But it has everything to do with the fact that God created me and He cherishes me.  He loves me with an everlasting love.  He offers me grace in my time of need.  He sings over me. It’s OK to let my mistakes go, to accept the grace He offers me.

Finally, I need to remind myself that God is sovereign, even in the face of my mistakes and bloopers and moments of wretched, utterly frustrated humanity.  I can’t mess up His plans in my life, or in the lives of folks around me, and honestly it is a mixed-up kind of vanity to be imagining I’ve got more power than God over anyone’s life.

Satan wants me to be miserable– to live cowering in the oppressive shadow of all the mistakes I’ve ever made.  God wants me living victorious.  He’s got me covered completely and fully in His precious grace, grace that He wants me to pass on to others.

And to myself.

All praise to God for His precious grace.

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  1. I love that song! It just calls for a double fist pump. 🙂

  2. JenniferO says:

    Couldn’t have come at a more appropriate time for me. All praises to Jesus Christ!

  3. Hi!

    Amazing perspective! God wants us to be free and live at our full potential while Satan wants us to be miserable!

    And great song by the way!

    Have a nice day!

    Raluca from Romania

  4. Mary, great post. Regret is such a thief. I love it that you are not giving it any power, and encouraging us the same way. So thankful for Jesus who has freed us from that life!
    We are using this song for our H@HKids! event Saturday– speaking into each child’s true identity. Exciting! Blessings.

  5. When bub #6 was 4 days old she had a lumbar puncture and I had to walk out because I was about to pass out. I was interstate, on my own with her and had not slept since before she was born. My legs were swollen, I had no idea if she would live or what kind of needs she would have if she did live. I didn’t know when I would see my husband and other children. My “support’ person had let me down and turned nasty, I was exhausted and watching her have a needle shoved in her spine would have tipped me over the edge. I still have to re-forgive myself for walking out every time I think about it. I hate not being super human. I prayed that the angels would sing to her that day, I am forever thankful that God is bigger than me.

    • What a tough time that must have been for you. When I worked as an RN on Peds, we pretty routinely sent parents out of the room for spinal taps. They are HARD to watch. SO glad God is watching over our kids even when we can’t be there.


  6. I liked the song when I heard it played on the radio. Then I later heard an interview where Matthew told the story of the man who inspired the song. Nothing like running errands while bawling in the car. The song has been so much more powerful for me since hearing that testimony. In case you didn’t hear it, it is explained in this article.

    You said God took your mistake and still made something good come from it. Is that really what happened? Or was that God’s plan all along? Perhaps Jared was always supposed to go to the school he did, and the entire experience was to benefit one of your younger children who really WILL need to do some prep for where they are supposed to go. Perhaps this “mistake” was simply future-crisis-aversion. You’ll probably never know on this side of heaven, and I doubt you’ll care once you get to the other side, but I think it possible it was not actually a “mistake” at all.

  7. Thanks for writing this post-I really needed to hear it this morning and be reminded of God’s love and forgiveness for me!

  8. I love Jared’s story! Thanks for sharing Mary. I am excited to see how God continues to use him. Thank you Jesus!