The picture above is a poem by my favorite poet, and in my opinion, the best poet of his time, Robert Frost. There have been many interpretations of it’s meaning, but I believe it’s meaning is basic. There are two paths in the forest and you can only take one. The paths represent the choices in your life. One choice can affect you forever, or at least for a really long time. Regret is something I have been struggling with a lot of late. It’s difficult for me to think about some of the decisions that I’ve made that have had lasting consequences on my future and my relationships. Granted, sometimes there are atypical circumstances that cause you to be thrown off balance from your destined path, but it’s worse when you feel like you’re the one responsible for shattering your dreams beyond repair. If you’re like me, you repeat scenarios in your head, wondering if you said the right thing. You may think about the last argument you had with someone, wishing you had handled the situation better. Maybe you got a job offer years ago that pays much better than the job you have now, but you think it’s too late to accept it. The circle continues on and on in your head as you condemn yourself for having been so blind to all the factors that surrounded you. I’m pretty sure all of us struggle to find the off and tape it down.
This will probably be one of the most sensitive articles I write, because I have not yet found all the answers when it comes to conquering regret. This is not something I’ve been through, it’s something I’m currently going through. One thing I can say, is that holding it all in isn’t going to make it any easier. You’re still going to have to deal with your pain at some point, the only difference is that it may be worse because you’ve put it off. One way I cope when I feel like I’ve failed in areas of my life is by running. Sometimes I can feel myself getting restless and festering on detrimental thoughts and I just plop on my shoes, stretch, and go. Other times, it’s good for me to take a “personal day” to sit and read my bible in peace. Reading about what God says about me is surely better than whatever my own mind can conjure up. It’s definitely best to do something, even when you just want to cry and bow your head.
The word of God says in Ephesians 4:2-3, “Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.” For me, I feel like I do everything I can to keep connected to the people I care about most. I am the one who “takes the road less traveled” in order to show myself loving and trustworthy. I keep people’s deepest secrets and help hide graceless quirks. I do my best to forgive when it’s the hardest thing to do. I open my ears to the one that needs to vent. But I’m finding that the relationships that I failed in are the hardest ones to let go of. How do you get past the dilemmas people won’t let you forget? Can you take things to the next level when you feel you aren’t really forgiven? God’s word says that as Christians, we’re supposed to look to Him for validation, but it doesn’t mean that we detach ourselves completely from the opinions of those we trust.
No matter what I feel, I try to keep myself motivated and focused on my goals. One of the biggest regrets I have in life is that I lost who I was in the midst of losing my focus. People started to think of me as someone who was unreliable and deeply credulous, and one by one doors were closed. I did the best I could with what I had in the moment but in the end, it just wasn’t enough. My heart is overcome most days with grief like that, as I go further down the road chosen for me. But one skill I have improved upon is looking up verses that have to do with my emotions, then I speak them to negative thoughts I have. Here are 4 that I came across with regret:
1. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. (1 Peter 5:7)
2. Since I am afflicted and needy, Let the Lord be mindful of me. You are my help and my deliverer; Do not delay, O my God. (Psalm 40:17)
3. Cast your burden upon the LORD and He will sustain you; He will never allow the righteous to be shaken. (Psalm 55:22)
4. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Today has enough trouble of its own. (Matthew 6:34)
In my opinion, verses like Matthew 6:34 are the most influential. “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow…” When you limit yourself due to past mistakes, you’re affecting your tomorrow, whether you see it or not. It may be in a small way, not going to strangers that could potentially be a new friend or employer. Maybe God wants you to give someone a message through the Holy Spirit but the last time you tried, the person thought you were crazy and said awful things about you. Now you just keep your mouth shut and let people do what they want. Every day, we are given opportunities to, in a way, rewrite the past. We all know the truth. We CAN’T change the past, all we can do is move forward. It’s about finding your confidence again. Believing that you can be somebody important. I can’t say for myself that I completely have this one down. I am still working to mend my own heart and discover what’s healthy for me. Even if I never regain all the titles and opportunities and attachments that I’ve lost, or begin to fully understand some of the previous contentions, I will continue to cast my cares upon God. There’s no doubt in my mind that He WILL handle it all.