Wednesday, August 17, 2011

No regrets . . . part 1

Most conversations that I have with with my 90 year old mother are just a repeat of the previous one.  Not much new happens in her life these days so she just talks about the same things every time.  Every once in a while, however, she throws me a curve ball and says something new.

That happened just recently when she said, "I have no regrets.  If I had my life to live over I wouldn't change anything.  OK, there's one thing  . . . I wouldn't have let your father have his way with what we called your older sister.  I chose the name Susan and he chose the name Gail but he wanted to call her Gail and I relented.  I shouldn't have done that." 

Wow! A life with no regrets (except one)?  Is that even possible?

My life is full of regrets.  I wish I had been a better son, husband and father.  I wish had been a better employee and a better employer.  There are things I should have said and thing I should not have said.  There are a ton of things I would do differently if I had a "Do Over" button.  There's not a day that goes by that I couldn't just wear-out that "Do Over" button. 

You and I (and even my mother) make mistakes.  We are fallen people in a fallen world.  (I love that excuse!  It comes in handy when I can't think of a good reason to explain something stupid that I've done.)  Nevertheless, it's the truth.  We are flawed humans who, except for grace, are doomed by our mistakes.  That's what make grace so sweet!

Having regrets is not entirely a bad thing.  I don't necessarily dwell on them but recognizing and owning them are what motivates me to do better.  Sometimes I can make amends for past mistakes by apologizing or correcting something that I regret having said or done.  Sometimes I recognize that there is nothing I can do about that mistake but ensure that I don't repeat it.  Regrets are what keep me humble.

I don't know exactly what my mother meant when she said she had no regrets but I hope that it doesn't mean that she thinks she made no mistakes.  I hope that it means that she thinks she did her best and is satisfied with the outcome.  I can't say the same about my own life, however.  I know there are times when I haven't done my best or done the right things.  Sometimes I knew it when I was doing it.  Call it immaturity or greediness or selfishness and you're probably right.  I've been all of those things at times in my life.  Again, that's why I'm so thankful for God's grace  . . . a grace that allows me to own the mistake and accept the forgiveness that's available to me and move on.

What about you?  Any regrets?  How do you deal with them?

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