Recently, I’ve heard a lot of people say that they don’t have any regrets. Maybe its an athlete being interviewed after a game or a person looking back retrospectively over an event in their life, it seems like a lot of people are living without regrets. Of course, its not that this is a new saying or that people are necessarily saying it more often, but is probably more of a case of me just hearing it more.
An amusing thing about this, is that a person is usually speaking on the heels of some failure. Maybe its a quarterback who came up short and says he doesn’t have any regrets of how he played. It could be the athlete who is retiring, and chances are you’ll hear them say that they don’t have any regrets. Brett Farve (NFL). Tiki Barber (NFL). Craig Biggio (MLB). Pete Samprass (tennis). Dale Jarrett (NASCAR) Often times, someone is being interviewed about having escaped a dark period in their life and they would not change the way they did anything. No regrets! President Bush recently said he had no regrets of how things have gone in Iraq. And Hillary Clinton says she doesn’t regret voting for the war. We’ve become a culture skilled at no regrets. Just do a search for ‘no regrets’ and you’ll come up with an impressive list of failures and mistakes that bear no regrets.
Are regrets bad things? Certainly, we humans do a good job at messing things up, and to look back over our lives and say we wouldn’t change things is just ridiculous. I have regrets. That doesn’t mean I let them eat me up, but if I could do some things different in my life, I certainly would. It seems that our society has placed such a high importance on self esteem, that we’ve raised a society of people who live without regrets. After all, they are just negative feelings, right?
Regrets can be very useful. The source of a lot of wisdom in life is learning from mistakes. God allows us to go through dark periods in our lives, and if we go through it all and say we have no regrets, then have we really learned anything?
The funny thing is that people can usually recognize regrets in other people. Surely George Bush or Hillary Clinton have to have regrets, right? Brett Farve has no regrets? He and his NFL record 288 interceptions. You don’t regret any of those? Not even the one that was the final note of your career? We can point fingers and tell people what they should regret, but we should be so skilled at looking at our lives, seeing decisions, words, or actions that we regret, and learning from those mistakes.
Of course, our goal should be to live life in such a fashion that we may never regret our decisions, but the reality is that on this side of eternity, we’re all bound to do something we regret. How you react to your sin and failures will dictate how you grow. David was a man after God’s own heart, in part, because of his repentance after his sin with Bathsheba. You think he regretted that mistake and the ones that followed? Are regrets bad things. Technically, they only exist because of sin, but that doesn’t mean that they are to be avoided. The sin is to be avoided, but in the season that we give in, regret is something that will help us repeat the follies of sin.