I made myself a promise a really long time ago. When I’m 80 years old, I don’t want to think about my life and have any regrets. Up to this point in my life, have I fully lived my life with no regrets? No! Definitely not. I think we all think about things we should have done, lost opportunities, better choices. Maybe it’s “the one” that got away. Maybe it was the sacrifice you made to be in a relationship and then the relationship fell apart. Maybe you should have started wearing moisturizer on your face when you were 19 instead of 39 LOL! There are many things that I would still like to do in my life but life’s circumstances just don’t fall in line with timing, resources, and ultimately the plan that God has for us.
Unfortunately, there will come times when we will have regret, which If not managed correctly, becomes like an anchor that keeps us sinking to a bottomless sea of regret which then overcomes us with waves of grief. Grief?!?! Yes, I said GRIEF! When we feel regret, we grieve what we feel we have lost. It’s not a sin to feel regret, but it becomes sinful when we stay in that place, making an idol of the thing we are regretting in our lives. All regret is not equal. According to 5 Types of Decisions We Regret Most | Psychology Today there are 5 types of regret. The one that resonated with me the most was lost opportunities. I’ve quickly realized that living without regrets is easier said than done!
A couple of months ago, I had two opportunities to do full-time ministry. Both opportunities would require me to move to another state and take a significant pay cut. I would be leaving my friends, church family, and career, to start this new life. Honestly, everything inside of me wanted to do it since it has been my heart's desire for as long as I can remember. After serious consideration, I couldn’t make a decision! I prayed, I fasted, but I had no peace either way. One day I thought I was going to church A, and the next day I thought I was going to church B. I contacted both pastors and let them know I was withdrawing my interest in the positions. Obviously, both churches moved on and hired other people.
You’re probably thinking what is the big deal? Just keep applying. But I’ve wanted to do full-time ministry for as long as I can remember. I’ve talked about it, dreamed about it, and really have felt the Holy Spirit leading me in that direction. So, to be presented with two opportunities and not choose either was completely out of the ordinary and shocking to me. I’m not sure which was worse, not being able to make a decision or having regret that I just didn’t choose one; any one! Immediately, I began to grieve the lost opportunity.
Anger and bitterness started creeping into my heart and I began the blame game. I blamed myself, my career, anyone who gave me advice. But mostly, I blamed myself for not having enough discernment to make a decision. Why couldn’t I sense the peace of the Holy Spirit? I questioned my intentions, my calling, and my faith or lack thereof. My heart was completely broken. In the months that followed, I felt forgotten and left out. You’re probably thinking why would you feel left out if you were the one that made the decision? Well, that's because regret and grief grow in isolation.
In the midst of all of that, I allowed regret to keep me stuck in a place that God never intended for me to be. Regret was dragging me down to a bottomless sea filled with the darkness of insecurity. It had paralyzed me and kept my mind focused on the “what if’s.” What if I went to church A? What if I went to Church B? The “what if” game is the most dangerous game you can play. What if I married the one that got away? What if I never took that job? We don’t know what would have happened if we made that decision, and we will NEVER know what would have happened. Only God knows and we are not God. We have to trust Him. We have to believe in Him and when we believe in Him “we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28, NKJV).
When you’re drowning in regret, don’t get distracted by the “What ifs”!!!
To make matters worse, the “what ifs” were taunting me and leading me to just take a quick look at what I turned down. So I was going to the church’s Facebook pages and seeing who my replacements were. Don’t act like y’all have never been an online stalker LOL I grew up in the 90s and it's the equivalent to driving by your ex-boyfriend’s house or job when you knew he would be there or worse trying to find out who his new girlfriend was! Well, that’s what I did and I even saw her preach at the new church on YouTube. Oh, sisters!!!!! I was wrecked!!!! But I thought I was going to be wrecked in a bad way but I was wrecked in a good way too! I saw her and she did a fantastic job and I remembered what a pastor friend told me. He said, "just like God moved you out the way for her, He will move mountains for you too!" WRECKED, I tell you, I was wrecked!
So, when you’re drowning in regret, remember it’s not about you, it’s about trusting God’s plan!
Regret was causing me to grieve a lost opportunity. I was experiencing some of the stages of grief, particularly anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. I was angry at myself for not making a decision. I actually was bargaining and tried to get reconsidered for one of the positions. I felt deeply sad and retreated to my safe space for a time because I didn’t want to engage the world. I felt foolish and embarrassed. I finally feel like I'm accepting what happened as part of God’s plan and finally, I feel at peace knowing God has something else for me.
Lastly, when you’re drowning in regret, remember that God is in control and He hasn’t forgotten about you!
So, through this whole saga, my circumstances haven’t changed but God has changed my perspective. I can see, with the help of the Holy Spirit, that it wasn’t good timing. I still had too many open ends that needed to be resolved including selling property and my daughter deciding to move out the same week I was fasting for direction! We are waiting and preparing for the next opportunity all while staying faithful to what God called us to do now. The simple truth is, I allowed myself to get distracted and I wasn’t trusting God’s plan.
Are you drowning in the sea of regret? First, turn to God. He wants to turn that regret into joy. Take some time to reflect and journal about the questions below. Look up the verses and let God speak to you!
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GROWTH THROUGH SELF-REFLECTION
What is one regret that you can’t let go of?
What do you feel would have happened if you made the decision you thought you should have made?
Do you 100% know the result if you actually made the decision you are regretting?
How much time have you lost overthinking your decision?
What else have you lost because of regret? Relationships? Joy? Contentment?
How many times have you been distracted and it caused you not to trust God’s plan?
Do you truly, wholly trust God?
2 Corinthians 7:10
1 John 1:9
1 Peter 5:8
Psalm 34: 4-5
Job 3:3, 11