Friday, May 22, 2009

Failure is never quite so frightening as regret.

I've seen and/or heard comments such as this many times: "I've chosen to live my life with no regrets."

I think, on the one hand, I understand why someone might say this:
  1. To attempt to reassure his or her self that he or she is not a bad person based on making some poor choices.
  2. To attempt to convince us that despite making some bad choices, he or she is still a good person.
  3. To affirm God's ultimate control of the universe (cf. "providence"), meaning that what happens was meant to happen.
Let me say, however, that I just don't get it ... and I believe in a sovereign God that freely and immutably ordains all things that come to pass! But, I do not think it's inconsistent for a Christian to live with regret.

To live with no regrets, it seems to me, would mean never having made a mistake or a lapse in judgment or whatever. Right?

I understand the whole notion of God bringing good from bad, but that doesn't make the thing done good. Even Joseph recognized that the actions that resulted in his position of power & authority in Egypt were "meant for evil." (cf. Gen 50:20) A positive outcome does not validate a negative action.

To regret poor decisions and/or offending a holy God with sin doesn't mean we can't appreciate and enjoy the "fruit" of that which we regret, however. In fact, we probably should.

A classic example is pregnancy for an unwed mother. Some would err and say she's done nothing wrong since God will bless her with a beautiful baby. Others might err by saying that since she's done wrong, we shouldn't celebrate that gift of new life.

A baby is not a punishment, but a blessing to be enjoyed, but that doesn't mean we condone the behavior that brought us such joy.

In addition, I don't think we have to wait for the results to know if a decision was right or wrong. Sometimes that may be the case, but the end does not justify the means.

So, I try to live my life with no regrets, meaning I try not to do the wrong thing, but do the right thing. But, when I fail or waffle, I repent of my foolishness and/or lack of judgment and drive on.

I don't dwell on it to the point of paralysis, but regret does not necessitate that. If you waffle, regret it, and learn from it ... so you don't do it again.



At 22 May, 2009 17:15, Blogger Ashley said...

Great post. I agree. We should regret our sins.

At 22 May, 2009 17:22, Anonymous Lance said...

In the same genre is the dude at the funeral who says that he never heard the deceased say a bad word about anyone.

Such seems to be a very popular funeral cliche, or maybe I'm just attending too many good-people funerals.

At 22 May, 2009 21:53, Blogger Jeannette said...

I'm a person who has said, "I have no regrets." When I say that, I mean it in the larger sense of the word. When I commit or sin, hurt someone, etc. I absolutely feel a sense of regret combined with shame. Although I could forgive others, it took me a long time to learn to forgive myself. I don't let fear stop me, therefore I haven't passed on something that I wish I'd taken advantage of in the past. As you've written, it also has to do with letting go of the past so that we can move on with the present and future. For me, it's about forgiveness, and not letting fear stand in the way of living a full life.

I enjoyed the article Gunny, as I do everything I've read from you.

At 22 May, 2009 23:09, Blogger GUNNY said...

Thanks for your kind words, Jeannette and good point. I think we can really stagnate if we live in the past, thinking of how things used to be or might have been had we done some things differently.

In such an instance, it's easy to squander the present and future due to such a preoccupation with past wrongs, hurts, and disappointments.

Lance, I've made it clear regarding my funeral that they are to cut the mic of anyone who says anything remotely like, "He never raised his voice" or "Everybody loved him" or "He never lost his temper" or "He never said an unkind word to anyone." Either that or check the coffin just to make sure they got the right guy.

Thanks, Ashley. Hopefully, as time goes on, we'll have fewer and fewer to regret each year.

At 22 May, 2009 23:44, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I thought that statement meant the person, by making an attempt at something challenging, did not regret never having tried. To try and fail is better than the regret of not trying, and consequently never knowing whether one could have succeeded.

At 23 May, 2009 15:12, Blogger GUNNY said...

Anon, that is indeed the context and meaning of the blog title.

However, the sentiment of "I have no regrets" is a bit different, and primarily what I was addressing.

The blog titles are movie quotes which are sometimes related to but not a summary statement of the blog post itself.

Sorry about the confusion. ;-)

At 31 May, 2009 20:47, Blogger Jade said...

You know Gunny ... there's something about King David that's I've often wondered about. Do you think he dwelled on his regrets concerning his adultery with Bathsheba and murder of Uriah, even after the Lord forgave him of these sins? Because if you notice, he wasn't the same king after that and his household rather fell apart after that incident. Granted the Lord told him that there were consequences to his actions and spoke of the judgment that were to come upon him. It's not that the Lord didn't forgive him but rather they served as safeguards of the Lord's forgiveness. But there was a sense of despair about David after that. He wasn't the same courageous king that he was before all that. It was like something died in him. I often wondered what went wrong there....


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