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Tuesday, May 27, 2008

The Right Regrets

I was an only child preacher's kid. I grew up being lectured on the importance of confidentiality. I was required to tag along when my parents visited fighting spouses or walked into a dysfunctional home. I kept quiet or would find the children in those situations and gather them in a closed room so I could provide comfort.

As a teen I formed a life philosophy that centered around the goal of "no regrets." It seemed to me that the worst expressed emotion was that of "regrets". I could see it in a person's eyes. I watched as they rung their hands and cried. I saw the drooping shoulders and felt the air of depression - all because of regrets.

It's easy to quote Nathan Hale when he said, "I only regret that I have but one life to lose for my country." That regret inspires us. It's a regret that says I want to do more. I want to multiply myself for a greater good. What about other regrets?

Woody Allen had issues in his life and said "My one regret in life is that I am not someone else."

In Casablanca Humphrey Bogart's character Rick said, "If that plane leaves the ground and you're not with him, you'll regret it. Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, but soon and for the rest of your life." Regrets of love are especially painful.

Robert Hardie was a Scottish doctor who when Singapore fell in 1942 became a prisoner of war. He kept a secret diary and said, "This is the last day of 1943, a year to be said goodbye to without regret, holding as it did nothing beyond captivity and depression, weary waiting, and above all the sight of immeasurable human misery, suffering and death." Even though we never regret losing pain in our life - we will always regret the loss of time during the pain.

In Tennyson's poem The Princess he describes the pain and "wild regret" of love lost.

I don't have an exact quote, but I remember an interview with Billy Graham where he expressed regret that he hadn't learned more about the scriptures. Even with all his accomplishments he felt he had not done enough.

It seems impossible to leave this life without regrets. There's so much to do and many things we would like to accomplish and yet....time....commitments....lack of money....too much money....whatever the reason - life consumes us and regrets move in.

Do I have regrets? After all, my goal at a young age was not to have any. "How unachievable the silly goals of youth."

Of course I have regrets. I have huge regrets. There are issues that haunt me to this day. But...I have learned over the years to control my regrets. I concentrate on the big things in my life and reserve my regrets for the little things. Regrets like not exercising enough or paying off a bill or keeping my house spotless.

I work hard to eliminate regrets about relationships. When a relative or close friend is frustrated with me and letting me have it - before responding I ask myself "will there be regrets for responding negatively?" If there are, I hold my tongue.

I don't allow regrets about my faith. I try to be like Jesus in that I'm the same today and tomorrow when it comes to my faith. I refuse to let it change to suit another or to gain approval or to make life easier.

I don't allow regrets about my family. They are first and will always be first no matter what sacrifice I have to make.

Yet.....I still have regrets even in those areas.

I hope you will join me today in a new commitment to take care of those around us and to "lessen" the amount of regrets in our lives. You will sleep much better when you are old if you are conscious about your life when you are young.

As Dr. Ken Crocker says, "The mortality rate is 100%. Everyone dies. I've held the hands of many people as they died and I know of no one that looks back on their life and wishes they could have worked more or argued more. Everyone looks back and wishes they would have worked less, loved more and had less regrets."

I like the quote from a play by Arthur Miller. He won a Pulitzer Prize for Death of a Salesman and was established as a leading contemporary playwright dealing with the realities of family life. In his play The Ride Down Mount Morgan, Tom said, "Maybe all one can do is hope to end up with the right regrets."

Let's pray together that today we will end up with the "right regrets."

God loves you,


1 comment:

Walter said...

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