The New Year serves as a convenient time for reflection, which may also include the evaluation of regrets.  I have a couple big regrets this year that have caused deep pain.  Regrets can be disruptive to our life goals, to career and educational plans, to relationships with family, friends and community.  Regrets can trap us and keep us from growing in our faith and experiencing God’s abundant grace.   We all have regrets and they can cause deep pain and suffering.  Even the Lord is described as having deep regrets, sorrows, and grief.    In the book of Genesis prior to the story of the flood, we read, “The Lord was grieved that he had made man on the earth and his heart was filled with pain (Gen 6:6 NIV).  1Sam 15:15 recorded, “The Lord regretted that He had made Saul king over Israel.” (1 Sam 15:35, NAST) .
The question is not necessarily how to avoid regrets, but rather what do we choose to do with our regrets.   It seems clear that pain can be an indication of something not quite right in our lives.  If it is physical pain, we try to find the answer by going to the doctor, or taking an Ibuprofen!  If it is emotional pain, hopefully we will seek out help through a loving friend, mental health professional and or a spiritual advisor.  If it is societal or community pain, like what our country is feeling following the tragedy of Newtown, Connecticut  we enter a time of mourning and then into discourse on many levels and hopefully to actions to better protect precious life.  Regrets and pain can propel us forward with hope.
We can try to falsely  build a life of emotional and physical safety and not venture out to experience the vulnerability of life, but that caps the experiences of all of life,  both the pain, as well as the joy.  Regrets, like some pain, can be viewed as a God given guide to help us stay on course.  We are created in his image, and scriptures clearly record he has regrets. Our regrets, therefore can be used as a guide forward.  Conversely, we can choose to let regrets trap us in a cage of negative self talk, guilt and pain.  This trap becomes disruptive to our lives and further damages our relationships.  God, however, desires so much more for our lives than to live trapped in our regrets.  In 2Cor 7:10, Paul wrote, “Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorry brings death.”
Prayer, the offering forgiveness  as well as receiving forgiveness, honest examination of our own journey, repentance, confession, sharing with a close friend or clergy are all possible ways to bring our regrets before the Lord.  Clearly the deeper the pain, grief and regrets, the more abundant the grace and love from God that brings all healing.
God desires our repentance.  He wants us to understand why we have regrets, and to cast them upon him.  He is there with his arms open wide, just waiting for us to come into the presence of his love and grace, so we can be filled with his joy and the peace that surpasses all understanding.