A dear sister-friend and I were having a conversation recently. We realized that we are in a season of life that appeared like “a thief in the night”. It jarred us. Out of nowhere, that sweet baby niece I first held at 7 weeks old, is a 19 year-old in college. Former elementary and middle school students that I taught, are now establishing careers, marrying, parenting and “adulting”. I speak in terms of having life-long friends that I have known for decades. Decades.
These days, I often find myself asking some version of “How did this happen???!”
Frustratingly, an unwanted guest seems to enjoy hanging out with me during this season. He’s always been there, but there is something about having more decades behind you, than you may have ahead of you (but, my grandfather lived to be 102 years old, so anything is possible) that makes his presence more pronounced. He creeps in when I’m lying awake at 2am. He whispers in my ear as I scroll through social media or reminisce with old friends about days long past and dreams once held. He has an uncanny knack for turning a joyful celebration into a time of mourning.
His name is Regret.
We’ve been spending waaaaay too much time together lately, and he has just about drained the life out of me. He has stifled growth and smothered motivation. He has reminded me of failures and slights. And in response, I have grieved, whined, complained, grumbled and given him ample opportunities to make himself at home.
What I have not done is abided in Christ.
As much as I like to choose a different motivational word of the year, God keeps thrusting me back into “Abide”. I finally understand. It’s because abiding in Him is not to be a fashionable goal for the year. It is a commitment for a lifetime.
I have woefully approached abiding in Christ as an inconvenience. Dragging out of bed in the mornings because I “have” to get up before the kids. Seeking the Lord for assistance as a last resort.
It’s such a contrast to how my children function in the morning. When they awake, even when tired, they come bursting into our room with enthusiasm, jumping on the bed to cuddle and kiss. Because I’m their momma and they love me.
I am not their last resort when in a difficult situation. I am their first solution, because they expect me to come to their aid. Based upon past experiences, they have faith in me.
When they are hurting, even when I discipline them, they run to me, for hugs, kisses, words of encouragement. They find comfort in abiding, even when circumstances are not favorable.
These littles ones have been teaching me how to abide for years, and I have completely ignored it.
So, you may have wondered where I have been since January.
Living with Regret. For tasks left incomplete, goals not fulfilled, dreams not pursued, fears that have controlled and basically a life not fully lived.
The irony is, regret often only leads to more regret.
But then, Grace intervenes.
The Grace of a God who granted a glimpse of His plan of redemption in the midst of exacting consequences for the first sin in Genesis 3.
The Grace of a God who “proves his own love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8)
The Grace of a God who assures us “that He who started a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 1:6)
Grace gives hope, when Regret sets out to strangle it.
Regret tells me that my life is in my own hands.
Grace reminds me that “all my days were written in your book and planned before a single one of them began.”(Psalm 139:16)
I can do nothing about the past, but learn from it.
In doing so, I choose to release Regret’s hand, trusting that God’s “right hand will hold me fast.” (Psalm 139:10)