We all have them. Some of us are able to move on. Some of us are not. Most of us fall somewhere in-between.
Life happens to all of us and when we reconcile the fact that we live in a broken, imperfect world, we can find balance in not living with regret.
Elisabeth Elliot, a woman in her 80's, has been a mentor to me. Below are her thoughts about regret:
When my father was twelve years old he lost his left eye through disobedience. He had been forbidden to have firecrackers, but he sneaked out early in the morning of July 4, 1910, and, with the help of a
neighboring farmer, set off some dynamite caps. A piece of copper penetrated his eye.
Four years later my grandfather wrote this letter to my grandmother:
I am not one bit surprised that after all our experiences of the past four years you should suffer from sad memories, but I really do not believe for a moment that you should feel you have any occasion to let remorse bite into your life on account of Philip's accident. Surely we cannot guard against all the contingencies of this complex life, and no one who has poured out life as you have for each one of your children should let such regrets take hold.
None of us could be alive to the pressing needs of today if we should carry along with us the dark heaviness of any past, whether real or imagined. I know, dearest, that your Lord cannot wish anything of that sort for you, and I believe your steady, shining, and triumphant faith will lead you out through Him, into the richest experiences you have ever had. I believe that firmly.
I have had to turn to Him in helplessness today to overcome depression because of my failures. My Sunday School fiasco at Swarthmore bears down pretty hard. But that is not right. I must look ahead, and up, as you often tell me, and I will. I know how sickening remorse is, if anyone knows; yet I also know, as you do, the lift and relief of turning the whole matter over to Him. We must have more prayers and more study together, dearest. I haven't followed the impulses I have so often had in this.
Lovingly, your own Phil.
My grandfather was the most cheerful and serene man I knew in my childhood. It is hard for me to imagine his having had any cause for remorse or temptation to depression. This letter, which bears a two-cent stamp and a Philadelphia postmark, was sent to Grandma in Franconia, New Hampshire, where they had a lovely vacation house. I spent my childhood summers in that house. I can picture her sitting on the porch, perhaps on the anniversary of her son's accident, looking out toward Mounts
Lafayette, Bald, and Cannon, wrestling with the terrible thoughts of her own carelessness and failure. I thank God for my heritage. I thank Him for the word of His faithful servant Paul: "I concentrate on this: I leave the past behind and with hands outstretched to whatever lies ahead, I go straight for the goal--my reward the honor of being called by God in Christ."
There is a "letting go" when you trust that God is with you. There is peace of mind knowing that the buck does not stop with you.