Building Better Marriages
By Rob Furlong
Living free of regret
"I has no regrets!"
If you have seen the film, The BFG, you will know that this is the response of the evil, human-eating giant, Fleshlumpeater, when he is asked by Sophie if he is sorry for all the bad things he has done.
Regret is one of those emotions that eats away silently at our souls and rare indeed is the person who has no regrets.
Regret is so damaging to our well-being it compelled one author to state:
Regret empties anticipation, flattens dreams, and suffocates hope, because regret is a form of self-punishment ... regret beats us up with the past.
I have come to realise that I have lived for far too long with many regrets and like the quote above says, they have beaten me up.
Many of you reading this understand precisely what I mean.
A father and son argue heatedly with each other and the father shouts out, "You're not my son! I disown you!"
The door slams furiously as the son walks out and father and son never speak to each other again.
In the midst of a tense confrontation a husband spits out at his wife, "I wish I had never married you" and he opens a wound of rejection in her that may never heal.
A young girl rues the day she gossiped behind her friend's back, wishing she could have the moment over, to take it all back.
Or a demanding mother with high expectations for her children makes it clear that she regards them as "failures" and an embarrassment to her.
Regret comes in all sizes, takes many forms and more often than not, it involves broken relationships.
Regret keeps us up at night, forcing us to maintain a sleepless vigil as we rehearse our failures and shortcomings over and over in our minds.
Bear in mind, I am not talking about hindsight.
Hindsight is that wonderful gift which enables us to process the mistakes from our past in a healthy way and, importantly, to learn from them.
I remember the time I stuck my finger into a live electrical light socket at my grandmother's home, wondering what would happen.
I soon learned and the subsequent jolt I received taught me a valuable lesson: "I will never do that again!"
Hindsight enables us to learn from our past mistakes.
Regret wants to keep us imprisoned by them.
Consider then, how Jesus deals with regret.
On that first Easter, there are regrets aplenty!
Judas, betrayer of Jesus, filled with remorse, dies a lonely, despairing death by his own hand.
Peter is humiliated and ashamed.
Once the proud boaster who said he would follow Jesus anywhere and even die with him, he is haunted by the words that fell from his lips, three times, no less:
"I do not know the man!"
And two walk a dusty road together, filled with sorrow over the death of Jesus and what might have been.
But in the middle of all this sorrow, Jesus bursts out of the grave alive, confronting everyone's regret and changing things forever.
Peter is restored.
Two travellers have their hope renewed.
Disciples are commissioned.
"The time for regret is over" says Jesus. "Now take this message of hope to the whole world!"
Here is what I am discovering.
I do not have to be held hostage by my regrets!
Because not only did Jesus die for my past mistakes, he completely obliterated them – and yours – when He rose from the dead!
In that decisive act, our past failures were dealt with once and for all and he has given us new life.
This changes everything, including our relationships.
We cannot change the past, but we can live free from it.
And we change our present when we rest in the fact that because of Jesus, regret can no longer "beat us up!" ?