I have a question.
What do you regret?
No, I don’t want to hear any justifications. I can look back at my life, and look at where I am now; and I’m happy with where I am now, so perhaps I can justify myself by saying I have no regrets, that I wouldn’t change anything, because then I would change where I am now.
I believe, though, that anyone who says that is lying to themselves. I’ve thought about this a lot lately, and I’ve come to realize, that no matter who we are – everyone has at least one thing in their past that they wish they had done differently.
Merriam-Webster defines the word regret with two major explanations. It’s interesting to note, though, the primary definition is listed as ‘to mourn the loss or death of’, or ‘to miss very much’. Secondly, it defines regret as ‘to be very sorry for’.
I don’t know about you, but no matter how happy I am with where I am now, and no matter how happy I am with the direction my life is heading in, I can not deny that there are things in my life that I’m very sorry for.
I was thinking about the word regret, recently, and I came up with my own explanation, suggesting that regret can be defined as ‘wishing for the choice you didn’t make’.
You see, every day we’re faced with choices. It could be anything, from something as simple as what to eat for breakfast, all the way up to whether you’ll ask your partner to marry you today. Each decision we face is like a fork in the path of our lives, and each choice we make, is the next path that we’re going to walk along. Certainly, some of them really don’t matter; they’re not going to have a major effect on your life either way; others, however, could have a major effect on the path that your life is set out upon.
This is where I come back to the word regret, and that idea of wishing for the choice you didn’t make. To me, we start to regret things, when we look back at the path we’ve taken, and start to wonder what would have happened had we made a different choice. I know that I can look back over my life, and there are plenty of choices I made that I wish I could go back with the hindsight I have now, and chosen the other path.
Perhaps it wouldn’t change anything; perhaps I would still have ended up in the same place that I’m in now. That’s something that I will never know, but it doesn’t change the fact that I’m sorry for the result that occurred from the decision that I made, and therefore, I wish for the other choice, because, who knows, that may have changed my direction.
This brings me to my first point.
You can’t change the past
There are probably enough theories on time travel for us to each have our own, but of course, most of them come down to the simple question, can you, or can’t you? Well, I don’t claim to know about quantum physics, time travel, or the bending of light, but I do understand that where we stand today, time travel is not possible – which means that we can’t go back, no matter how hard we try. Once we’ve made a decision, once we’ve put that decision into action, and started walking along the chosen path, we can’t then stop, go back, and decide we like the other path better. The moment you make that choice and act on it, the door’s closed on the other option – guys, remember this fact when making any choice that is between your partner and your mates!
You can’t predict the future
The other fact about the decisions that we make, is that we cannot see or predict the outcome until after we’ve made the decision. Sure, you could have a good guess at what the result of your decision is going to be, you could even be certain that you know what’s going to happen – but it’s all still guesswork, no matter how educated that guess might be, there’s always the chance that something else might be the result of your decision.
So it all sounds pretty dismal, doesn’t it? We can’t change the decisions we make, and we can’t guarantee what’s going to happen until after we’ve already made that irreversible choice.
So why make any decisions at all? Why not be that person who sits back and just watches life go by? We can be entertained by our own reality TV show just by watching our friends dig themselves out of the holes they make, and be nice and comfortable in our little bubble of indecision – because after all, if we’re not making any decisions, how can we make any mistakes?
Who really wants to lead that kind of life, though? It would turn out to be boring, uneventful, and my guess is that we’d probably end up regretting our habitual indecision, because we see other people take the opportunities that we passed by, and we see them get blessed by that decision.
It’s not all bad news, though!
We have a roadmap through life. We’ve got a guidebook that, while it won’t make the decisions for us, it will provide us with everything that we need in order to make those decisions, and make the best of them, so that we can live life in the greatest abundance.
Psalm 119:105 says “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.” While Proverbs tells us “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.”
We’ve got the best roadmap for life right under our very noses. God tells us in his own word, his own love letter to each and every one of us, that he will guide us through life. All we have to do is listen to him, and follow his advice.
So what does that leave us to do, then? We’ve got all these decisions that we can’t really do anything about on our own. All we’re doing is running on guesswork, so what should we do?
“Seize the day”. It’s a cliché statement that even I’m cringing at using, but it’s so appropriate. We’re faced with choices every day, so what should we do about them?
Between ourselves and God, we can seize the day, and make the best of each of those decisions. With God’s help, we can make the right choices.
Jesus said in Matthew 6:33 “Seek first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.”
See, God doesn’t want to make it difficult for us! He doesn’t want life to be hard. Sometimes we wonder about that, sometimes we question whether he’s really there to help us, or whether he’s only there to make things difficult, but I can tell you this much. God gave his only son, to die, so that we could have eternal life with him. Jesus, God’s son, gave his life willingly, because he loved each and every one of us so much, that he couldn’t bear to see us spend eternity without him.
You know what though? We have to make that choice. We have to make the choice to listen to God, before he can really have an effect in our lives; and like I said, the bible is your very own guidebook to help you make that decision.
If you don’t know him, then I encourage you, start asking questions, start reading the bible, and read it with an open heart. His word will be a light to your feet, and a lamp to your path, and he will help you find the right direction.