The Power of Regret
The other morning, I did something I'd done far too many times. I sat in front of my computer, drinking my coffee and thinking about the day before, and became overwhelmed with regret.
I got to thinking of all the things I'd missed, the things I'd said and done that may have caused harm to myself and others. I wished I'd done things differently on a bunch of decisions. I started overthinking everything and was in a funk over it before too long.
It's funny how easy it is to give advice to other people and so difficult to hear it yourself. Because at that moment, I heard my voice saying things like, "You've only got today." or "Don't look back; you're not going that way."
Then I kind of muttered out loud, "Yeah, yeah, yeah, but this is different."
Maybe you've had those kinds of moments, too. I am inclined to believe that we all have. Living in regret is one of the many things that keep us from becoming the people we long to be, from becoming our best and most authentic selves.
It's easy to slip into a habit of living in regret once we start, and even easier to ignore the advice we often give to others in the same circumstances.
I've also learned that many of my struggles with others stem from my regrets over my mistakes and the things I wish I could change about myself.
Just like feelings of guilt or shame, regret can eventually turn to anger if it's left to fester and grow. And that anger tends to get directed outward once it's done a bunch of nasty work on our inner life.
But if we can let go of all these feelings and learn to live in the Divine Space of forgiveness, grace, and peace, it can change everything, but it will take some painful realizations.
Fr. Richard Rohr puts it like this:
As we learn to live in Divine Space, we will almost naturally weep over our former mistakes, as we recognize that we ourselves are often the very thing that we hate and attack in other people.
The most transformative and powerful thing we can realize about this is that the Divine Space we seek is all around us and in us. We are never far from the potential to let go of our regrets and begin to live in hope.
And when we do, we can begin healing our souls and relationships with those we often wound because of the damage we've allowed regret to do in our lives.
May this be a healing and restorative word for us all today and every day from this day. And may the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you now and always. Amen.