We are planning a beautiful gala in a Texas vineyard…a unique celebration of the passion and potential of this newly joined life. It’ll be a great party.
We summoned lots of those we love to join us in launching these two lives into their dynamic future. Obviously, we’ve requested R.S.V.P…“répondez, s’il vous plait,” please respond to our invitation.
Sadly not everyone we love can come. For all kinds of legitimate reasons–from travel constraints to work conflicts—a few friends and family have had to decline our invitation.
They sent “regrets”.
It struck me: that is a sad word to express “sorry, we can’t accept your invitation”. Good manners, bad meaning.
It reminds me of what I’m left with each time I refuse the call of life to actually live.
Regrets are resistant responses to the invitation to restored living. The cause: we are pre-occupied–compulsively focused on something else; distracted from what could be the celebration of a lifetime. Usually those annoying disturbances are pains from the past.
Just listen to the language of regret: “what if?…if only…why did I?…I wish I hadn’t!” Regret is the disillusionment rising from disappointment. It can quickly become the defining influence of life.
To live in regret is to exist with the limitation of your potential based on the liability of your past.
Now regret can be a fine teacher…without it we are prone to repeat our mistakes and relive our failures. But regret is always a horrible master. Each one serves us if seen as a signpost, but will subvert us if used as a compass.
I have made many regretful decisions and lived through many regrettable experiences. And I have seen the destructive nature of regret up close and personal.
Regrets keep you:
- Focused backward on what you have already missed instead of looking forward at what you can still do. Your regrets grab the lens of living and twist the focus so you cannot see how things can and should be. Instead, you simply mourn what might have been.
- Obsessed with how you have failed instead of growing from what you have learned. Your regrets will accuse you compulsively and rob you of the course-correcting lessons you could learn from the moments that were far from your best.
- Trapped in the strangling confines of shame or grief when you could be living in the open space of grace. Your regrets will hold you in the prison of humiliation when you could be running through the meadows of mercy.
Isaiah was the Old Testament prophet who saw things as they were but never lost sight of how they could be. In a classic address to his people who were being swallowed by the spiritual quicksand of regret, he offered encouragement about what God wanted them to do with those meltdowns.
“Forget about what’s happened; don’t keep going over old history. Be alert, be present. I’m about to do something brand-new. It’s bursting out! Don’t you see it? There it is! I’m making a road through the desert, rivers in the badlands.”*
Every regret we allow to dominate us chokes the glory of destiny with the garrote of history.
Life is daily offering an invitation to risk, adventure, discovery and meaning. It is often wrapped in the mundane or disguised in the ordinary, but life is bidding us–“live!”
Jesus said that the Kingdom (the expression of life as He lives it and loves it) is “forcefully advancing and forceful men lay hold of it.”† Like a subway, the Kingdom is always covertly moving right under our feet.
Only the brave grab on for the ride.
So today when life issues the invitation–live this moment big–don’t send regrets. Say “Yes!”…and let’s get this party started.