The week between Christmas and New Year’s seems to be a good week to re-evaluate and, for me, to excavate. I have a lot of interests and I tend to collect stuff. I also tend to keep things I should get rid of. So, this week I usually try to get some cleaning done.
The process is a little bigger than just moving things around in or out of my office. Life gets cluttered, too. We keep things we should have gotten rid of long ago, things that drag us down much like the physical clutter of our offices or homes. You know how you can never find that thing you want at the time you want it, but it seems to be in the way at other times? The same thing happens with memories and old relationships and regrets.
So I thought it might be helpful to think through a few things we should get rid of before the new year. I doubt that we will be completely successful, but every honest attempt has value and moves us forward. Some of these are pretty big things and they tie in with other things, but we will look to the Lord who loves us and He will give just the strength we need.
First one: let’s dump the old regrets. We all have them. I have said that the person who claims to have no regrets in life probably lies about other things as well. Sins we wish we hadn’t done. Failures we can see our way around now with the clearer vision of hindsight. Things we said, but shouldn’t have said. Things we didn’t say, but should have. Degrees we didn’t finish. Decisions we shouldn’t have made. Dreams we should have pursued. We all have regrets.
But regret is a normal part of life. The simple fact that we are unable to breach the wall between the present and the past means that some acts will be regretted. And failure means only that we are human. In fact, as a wise friend once reminded me, recognizing my failure allows me to understand my need for a Savior. In fact, our failure is part of the Plan.
I don’t believe that the Lord leads us to wrong decisions and foolish actions, but I do believe that He uses those things in our lives to move us toward His goals for us. In other words, our failures are part of that promise that “all things work together for good.” Yes, even our sins are part of “all things.” There is nothing I have done that He did not take into consideration, nothing that derailed His good plan for me. I know that some teachers would disagree with that, but I trust that the Lord is bigger than my tendency to sin and fail.
And even the failures of my life that have affected others are part of His plan for them. That can be hard to accept and it is not for me to try to convince them of that truth. But I understand more and more that the path I have walked has been the path God used to bring me home.
Let go of the regrets. Agree with God that the sins were sins and accept His full forgiveness in Jesus. Agree with God that you need Him and apart from Him you will fail in many things. Agree with God that not all your failures are evil—some were part of the greater plan.
So, I am going to go to my knees now, before God, to ask Him to take these regrets and this shame away. I am going to ask Him to protect me against the evil one’s accusations based on these memories. I am also going to ask Him to give me a new perspective on my past, one that takes into account the fact that He has loved me all the way.
I invite you to do the same. I will pray for you.