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An Excerpt from Faith, Friends, and Other Flotation Devices

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Before I ventured on the trip to Alaska…I wondered if I would enjoy the trip. After all, it rains almost every day, it’s downright chilly (even in the summer) and it’s so far from Michigan. I did a lot of wondering before I stepped onto that first plane. But once I arrived, all I thought was, “Wow”.

The view from our cabin was that magnificent. Every single night before I pulled the shade, I’d look one more time. Every single morning, I’d open the shade for another look…and I was never disappointed.

You can imagine how glad I am that I didn’t forgo this trip just because I wasn’t sure if I’d really like it.

Regret.
I was so close to experiencing it.
Looking back, I’m just grateful I didn’t give way to my doubts.

Of course, this isn’t the first time in my life I’ve had doubts and let them hold sway over my decisions. Truth is, I’ve always struggled with the unknown…which is why I’ve written on that topic in my new book, Faith, Friends, and Other Flotation Devices.

Below is my chapter on Regret: The Definitive Thief.

“And between the old and new— the “was” and the “not yet” – there exists only one thing: a very frightening journey called faith. It is stripped of the usual comforts. It comes in one color: dark. It offers one amenity: catharsis.”
Margaret Becker in Coming Up For Air

If we’re honest, everyone longs for the bonuses, the benefits, and blessings that positive change can offer. True enough, the future is expansive, ripe with possibility, and can appear quite friendly (on certain days, under specific circumstances). Depending upon one’s perspective, one’s resiliency of spirit, and one’s ability to access and evaluate accurately, tomorrow may be viewed as a gratuitous opportunity. Or not.

Balance this opportunist mentality with the sobering fact that personal transformation is a lifelong process. Those of faith would term this forward-moving alteration of character, “progressive sanctification,” and the passage from what “one was or is” to what “one can be,” never ceases. So it is not surprising that most individuals wrestle with the personal adversary (formidable foe that it is) of regret.

Shoulda, woulda, coulda’s haunt men and women alike, the young and old, and everyone in between. Every person has said, done, or thought something (or failed to), which they ultimately come to regret. As perfection is non-existent on planet earth, all must reckon with their personal mistakes, wrong choices, and ill-made decisions. So how does this painful truism square with summoning up the courage to walk forward?

Author of Lost in the Middle, Paul Tripp says, “…the more life you have behind you, the more dreams give way to reflection, and before long you are spending much more time looking back than looking forward. You become a regular spectator on the person that once was. And you don’t always like what you see.” Ouch. Still, there exists some paradoxical principle that even the worst of happenings can be changed over and remade for the good. But for this transformation to take place, a person must be, first of all, honest, facing past regrets with courage, then willing to learn from these mistakes, and finally, face the future with expectant, hopeful possibility, forging new habits, patterns, and lifestyle choices on a day by day, hour by hour basis.

When individuals face their failings, something significant can happen, something quite wonderful, in fact. Tripp shares that as clarity is realized, “This moment of personal honesty and truth can be crushing and paralyzing, or it can be the beginning of a remarkably new phase of redemptive insight, change, and personal celebration.”

Reasons for Banishing Regret

* Regret is futile, inefficient, and unproductive, it offers nothing by way of solution.
* Regret paralyzes, no forward movement can co-exist with fear-bound inactivity.
* Regret cannot make amends; only pro-active restorative actions can bring healing.
* Regret is shortsighted, fixed on yesterday’s failings and doesn’t see the whole picture.
* Regret produces anxiety, fear, and dread, short-circuiting both physical and mental health.
* Regret denies the possibility of change and refuses to seek help in order to change.
* Regret is a thief that robs and robs and robs never to be satisfied.

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