The Saddest Words
From time to time I find myself squaring off against an old, and formidable emotional enemy--one that doesn't fight fair in the least. That old enemy of mine that periodically raises his ugly head is none other than Regret.
As I write this, I am reminded of the line from a John Greenleaf Whittier poem, "For all sad words of tongue and pen, the saddest are these, 'It might have been.'"
There's a reason those words ring so true, regret is immobilizing. When it hits you, it can't be easily shaken off. Instead, it merely fades into a dull ache that stays with you as a dread reminder of your frailty and brokenness.
Regret can (if not properly dealt with) become a constant, grinding companion that never lets you alone, and eventually can come to define your present and dictate your future.
Combating regret is a battle that all of us face, part of a larger struggle that we are engaged in against sin and death, both within us and without us. Martin Luther King, Jr. once wrote, "There is something of a civil war going on within all of our lives." I couldn't agree more.
In order to overcome in this struggle, we need to learn to see our frailty and brokenness through the lens of the Resurrection. When we do, we are able to discover that even the things we regret can be used by God to bring us new life.
Oswald Chambers once wrote:
"Let your memory have its way with you. It is a minister of God... God will turn what might have been into a wonderful lesson of growth for the future."
Chambers' words bring to mind the Apostle Paul, who had plenty to regret. Paul chose instead to live his life forward, learning from his past, but not letting it define him. He wrote in Philippians 3:13 these inspiring words:
"But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”
May the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you now and always. Amen.