What To Do With Regret

I've been thinking a lot lately about how regret can weigh on us so much that it keeps us from being the people we long to be. 

Regret is a powerful emotion.  It's also one that we all have a history with in one way or another.  None of us is untouched by regret.  

Each of us has moments in our past when we wish we had done or said something differently.  We all remember standing at a crossroads and choosing a direction we wished we hadn't. 

But what if there was a way for us to reframe our feelings of regret?  What if we could learn from the moments we regret and find a way to move on?

The other day I was listening to a playlist on my iTunes, and a song by Luca Fogale played that caught my attention.  The song is entitled "Hold Back," and it had these lyrics that really spoke to me: 
But there’s no weight in the words that you don’t say
No risk in the chance that you don’t take
There’s no power in stories left untold
No grace in the things that you control 

This resonated with me because I often view the challenging circumstances of the present through the lens of regret over the past. 

But here, we have a different way of seeing things.  

The singer realizes that things they've said or done in the past may have played a role in the difficulties he's experiencing.  

He's living in regret over those words and actions, and the temptation is to stay silent, become risk-averse, keep his stories to himself, and try to control everything in his life. 

He also realizes this is no way to live if he ever wants to feel love again or simply feel alive.  

This passage from the Hebrew prophet Micah comes to mind as I write this today.  The best version of this verse (in my opinion) is found in the Message translation: 

Where is the god who can compare with you— wiping the slate clean of guilt, Turning a blind eye, a deaf ear, to the past sins of your purged and precious people? You don’t nurse your anger and don’t stay angry long, for mercy is your specialty. That’s what you love most. And compassion is on its way to us. You’ll stamp out our wrongdoing. You’ll sink our sins to the bottom of the ocean.

I love that this message comes from the ancient Hebrew Scriptures (The Old Testament), the part of the Bible that many equate with images of an angry, judging, temperamental version of God.  

Here we glimpse a God who "forgets" our past, sinks our shortcomings, and moments we regret to "the bottom of the ocean."  

So we should ask ourselves today: "If God can do that, why can't we?"

I am still trying to figure out a clear answer to this.  I know it's a process and an exercise in constantly reminding myself that I am more than my regrets.  

And I know that living closed off from the world, guarding my heart, and trying to control my outcomes is no kind of life at all. 

I'm also trying to live into the knowledge that God has the power to restore and redeem my regrets, and I hold on to hope there is something new and beautiful down the road if I am willing to keep walking. 

May we make this faithful and wonderful truth something we hold in our hearts.  And may the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with us all, now and forever. Amen. 


  1. I also think back to songs like Edith Piaf's "Je ne regret rien" (I regret nothing) and Tom Rush's haunting "No Regrets" that take us to places (our own failings and losses);where we realize and appreciate these experiences as turning points, learning - the very meaning of repentance.


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