Regrets. Most people have them.
The truth is though that whatever stage we are in life, there is no need for regret. Regret only provides suffering for ourselves due to allowing our pasts to dictate how we should feel in the now. (Oftentimes this is because of a lack of forgiveness toward another or themselves.) Use the past as a reference point to understand what adjustments need made moving forward.
These adjustments don’t need to come from experiences of suffering, remorse, regret or judgment, but simply a choice to live in a different way. We can slow this learning process down by cementing ourselves in the idea of regret. Choose peace with you past and remember that each moment is a new choice.
Unfortunately some people don’t realize their regrets until later in life when there isn’t much life left to live.
During the Summer of 2010 my grandpa became very sick, dying of heart failure, after many years of heart issues. Doctors advised he be put in Hospice care. This was an involved and emotional process.
Because of the seriousness of his condition My Dad and I travelled to stay with and take care of Grandpa (and Grandma) during the 6 weeks it took to get everything settled. During that precious time with Grandpa I remember the many conversations we had about life, memories, relationships, desires and regrets. Those 6 weeks spent with Grandpa, before his death 6 months later, are precious to me; teaching me valuable lessons about love.
One night in particular he had immense pain in his legs, which could only be temporarily soothed by vigorous rubbing of his legs. We stayed up for hours in conversation to help keep his mind off the pain. Grandpa spoke to me about the few regrets he had in his life and how each one boiled down to one phrase that has remained with me, “Love despite fear; especially when the loving is not fair.”
I believe Grandpa’s wisdom is crucial to living a life with very few, if any, regrets.
We must first understand the abiding nature of love and to do so we must let God define it. Love does not describe the fullness of God, but God defines the fullness of love.
God is the standard of love (1John 4:13-16); the one who encourages us in love (1 John 4:17-18); the source of love (1 John 4:19-20); and the one who commands us to love (1 John 4:21–5:5). God Is the Standard of Love. (1 John 4:13-16) God’s actions reveal to us what love is and how it manifests itself.
Loving despite fear means to trust without question.
This is faith. Our faith is proportionate to the experiences we have garnered in this life. Trust is built upon those times we have extended opportunity for another to break our trust, but they instead have been found faithful.
I have shared sensitive information in relationships with trust and transparency for the purpose of receiving prayer. Despite the few instances where trust has been flagrantly broken resulting in heartache I have found there is greater good in sharing disappointments and failures within relationships. It has allowed opportunity for both people in the relationship to minister to one another’s hearts.
Loving despite fear means to desire without demand.
We all have desires.
I have the great desire to someday be an International Speaker and Bestselling Author. I also have smaller desires such as a warm cup of coffee served to me every morning and time to devote to writing everyday. And then there are those unrequited desires such as stress-free, lovely, uninhibited and real relationships.
No matter how much I demand it I will not become an International Speaker and Bestselling Author overnight. I will have to work diligently toward my dream.
No matter how much I demand from my husband a warm cup of coffee be ready when I wake up each morning or time to write in quiet everyday, it won’t be done in love due to my demanding. Asking and desiring these things is fine, but demanding them is selfish.
Demanding every relationship be stress-free and uninhibited will not increase love, but may increase regret. Demanding to be loved does not illicit love. Loving others despite the fear of not being loved back is a necessary risk in relationship.
Loving despite fear means to serve without restriction.
One of the biggest regrets most people have at the end of their lives is not that they worked harder, but they wish they would have served more and been more generous with their time and money.
My grandpa was one of the most generous people I have ever met. He grew up poor, picking grapes during the summer in the vineyards of Western New York. He worked fields for crops all throughout the year and as an adult worked multiple shifts at the steel mill even after losing a few fingers. The man worked hard all his life.
Grandpa did not restrict his generosity and service to just family. He did not restrict his generosity and service to only those who treated him fairly. He did not limit his generosity and service only to those with whom he agreed.
You might believe this a flaw and him disadvantaged, but Grandpa didn’t fear this. If more people thought this way there would be much less poverty and dysfunctional regret in the world.
Loving despite fear means to hope without limitation.
Grandpa shared with me before he died how he lamented the relational rift in our family with one of my cousins. He hoped for restoration before he died. Unfortunately, that never happened…but that hope has lived on in my heart almost 5 years since his passing.
Hope is limitless.
My cousin, whom my family has had a rift with for years, is someone I think about often, praying for opportunity for a restored relationship. That window of time has shortened immensely with his diagnosis of brain cancer this past Fall.
My heart aches for restoration…and in that ache my hope remains alive…despite the refusal of contact and forgiveness…hope remains.
Hope is a response to the mercy we have received. I will not regret hope just like Grandpa didn’t regret hoping for restoration.
Questions to Ask Yourself:
Have I allowed regret to stop me from pursuing a dream or relationship because of lingering fear, unforgiveness or other negative circumstance(s) from the past?
Do I love others despite fear by trusting without question?
Have I made demands of others causing a breakdown in my relationships? Am I willing to admit this fault in an attempt to restore relationship(s)?
When is a time I have served another (or group) without restriction? How has it helped me to overcome a regret from my past?
Has my response to a difficult situation been a loss of hope? Why? What is my desire for this situation and am I willing to hope again?