Thursday, October 14, 2010

Being Vulnerable: Regret

Sometimes I question this path of vulnerability I'm on. Sometimes I so badly want to retreat. To not let anyone know what's going on inside of me. To hide. But God has called me to expose the vulnerable parts of myself. I think one reason He is leading me on this journey is to help others in similar situations. I'm so blessed to have been able to share my story with several people over the past several years.

When I was going through the healing process I had no one to talk to who could identify with what I was experiencing. I hope I am that person for those who need someone.

I believe it's one small way that I can give God glory from what was otherwise a sad situation.

So today I question regret. I live with regret. I wonder if it is a lifelong sentence. I posted that as a comment on my Facebook page, and received quite a few comments. And I wonder how many of us understand regret. I'm not sure I do, so I've done a little research on it today. I researched it because the comments I received were similar in content, yet different. And different from what I interpret regret to be.The subjects of the comments ranged from guilt to repentance to bondage and condemnation. See what I mean? I think all of those may be somehow intertwined with regret at some point, but not in the sense I feel regret.

I know I'm being about as clear as mud, so let me just explain what I'm not experiencing.

I'm NOT experiencing:
guilt, shame, bondage, condemnation, anger at myself, deep sorrow, lack of faith

Good golly...I look at that list and think how sad it is. Yet, there was a time when I felt every one of those (at the same time!). But that's no longer the case.

What I AM experiencing is: an occasional passing desire to be able to change the decisions I made in the past

Had I not made the decisions I did, I might not experience some of the things I now experience (i.e., consequences). While I've made peace with my consequences, I occasionally have the thought that I wouldn't have those consequences if I'd made right choices. On the other hand, I often think about how much things have changed, and how God has used my actions and my consequences to bring glory to Himself.

Okay, with all that said, here are definitions for regret and guilt:
Regret - to think with a sense of loss
Guilt - remorse or self-reproach caused by feeling that one is responsible for a wrong or offence

While the definitions are similar, they are different. For example, I experience a sense of loss when I think about the people who are no longer my friends because of the choices I made. I wish I had not made those choices. I wish I had not lost those friends. But I no longer experience the the feelings of "remorse or self-reproach" over the actions that led to my loss.

With all that said, I do occasionally experience regret. Every once in a while, something triggers a realization of how much my life has changed. How much I lost, as well as how much I've gained (and, NO, I am NOT talking weight!!). How different things are. How all those changes can be traced back to my decisions. And, for a few moments, I wish I could have the chance to go back and make different decisions. And, because I do experience triggers, and I do have memories, I believe there's a good chance that regret may be a lifelong sentence...something I will always have to deal with from time to time.

I'm not sure I've made any sense at all to anyone (including myself) in this post; but maybe you got something out of it...


  1. Rebekah, I am reading Beth Moore's 'Why Godly People Do Ungodly Things'. I believe regret, in any or all of the discriptions you gave, is just Satan working on Christians minds. That is how he gets to us. Jesus has the Christian's heart so all Satan has to target is the mind. And the closer we try to walk with the Lord, the harder Satan strikes.

  2. I really enjoy your comments and think they are 'spot on'... very honest! Most of us process God's deliverance and performing well... It's actually simply being honest. You remind me of Paul when he wrote about grace abounding more where sin was present. I think I hear your heart in your writings expressing the acknowledgment of the sin, yet embracing the grace which abounds even more. And of course, Paul said (as you do) that we should not intentionally do wrong, but if (when) we do, we have an advocate with the Father.

    Just another note... God himself has regrets... there are several listed in the Bible and regretting isn't lack of faith (neccessarily). The actual expression of your honesty is a testimony of you strength of faith in Christ, living in you. Anyway, Genises 6:6 is one example of God regreting and I don't think He sinned... I know we beat ourselves up over past decisions sometimes but the very fact you are expressing yourself is a good thing. Blesssings to you and Mark! David and Candace

  3. MiMi :-) (I just HAD to go with your screenname!) Great book! It's been a long while since I read it! I wish I had it here to reference!! At this point I can't say whether I agree or disagree with your comment. Like I said...I'm not sure I even made sense to myself in this post. My disclaimer - I'm a work in progress these days...and the Lord knows He has His hands full with me! ;-)

    I'm glad you "get" the honesty I write with. It's scary, and I even considered not posting this piece because of responses I may get; but I believe it will be to God's glory if one person reads what I've been through (and still go through), and they see God's grace in me, and turn to Him. Please tell Candace hello! Hope you both are doing well!

  4. Linked here from Joy Treasure. I had the same thought as David when I first starting reading this (and I am a first-time visitor), "Wow, how honest."

    Good distinction b/n guilt and regret. I agree with MiMi that Satan can use regret to strike against us. But, we can also use it for good, I think. When I start feeling regret over something I have done, I try not to banish it frm my mind (unless I'm trying to go to sleep :). I think, "What is it I regret about what I did?" Then, I try to use that to NOT repeat the behavior that caused the regret. Doesn't always work, but it does enough times that I now try to embrace the regret, own the bad behavior, feel the pain, and grow.

    Very good post. YOu have stimulated thought and discussion.

  5. Warren, thank you for visiting and commenting! I like what you said: "I now try to embrace the regret, own the bad behavior, feel the pain, and grow." I think that's a good statement for where I'm at in life!

    I hope you'll visit again!