We’re told we can expect two things in life, death and taxes. I often say a third we all experience is human tragedy. It doesn’t skip any of us…doesn’t matter our race or religion, gender, genetics, or socioeconomics. It could be something global like war, terrorism, or a natural disaster. Or it could be much closer to home like death of a loved one, divorce, addiction, or financial hardship. All of us are subject to it.
One of the other things we all experience, I guess the 4th, is regret. If you’re human, you have regret. If you’re like me, you have regret. Regret is different than resentment, which is most often towards someone else….we typically resent others for offenses committed against us.
Regret is a feeling of sorrow or remorse for a fault, act, loss, or disappointment. It’s typically what we feel when we’ve done something we wish we could take back…get a “do over”. It could be that we regret something that made a negative impact on us. More common I think is when we hurt someone else. Often times we’ve not done it intentionally.
Bracketing my life in 10-year increments, I can remember regrets in every decade of my life. When I was single and married. Things I’ve done to my spouse, my kids, parents, siblings, and friends. Even collogues at work or mere acquaintances. Still to this day, I can’t tell you how many times I’d like to pull the words back in my mouth. Ouch!!!
So what do we do with it? You may have heard of Fr. Mike Schmitz. He’s not only a wildly popular speaker for our Steubenville Conferences, but the most popular Catholic podcaster there is, doing both the Bible in a Year and the Catechism in a Year. Not to my surprise, he has some great thoughts on regret. I’d suggest listening to his 8-minute talk here. In summary, he says,
Have you ever heard the saying “don’t regret the past, because it’s made you into the person you are today?” While there’s truth to this saying, there’s also something that we as Christians should be aware of…we make mistakes, do things we wished we hadn’t, hurt those we love in the process.
While we don’t want to be burdened by the mistakes we’ve made, it’s safe to say that all of us have done things that didn’t make us the people God wants us to be.
Fr. Mike goes on to say…There’s a difference between regret and repentance, and it can best be seen when comparing St. Peter to Judas. Both men sinned gravely against the Lord: Peter denying Him during the time of His Passion and Judas delivered Him to crucifixion. The difference is, where Peter regretted his sins and repented, Judas let his sin consume him.
It’s okay to regret the things we’ve done in the past that took us away from the path of God, but we can’t dwell in this regret. Instead, we have to do something about it. We have to repent. Repentance is what gives us the strength to forgive ourselves and continue striving for the kingdom of Heaven. When we repent, we surrender ourselves and our mistakes to the Lord, and then He can use those mistakes to glorify our lives. God can use everything—even our worst sins—for our path towards eternity. Nothing given to God is ever wasted.
To me, repenting is authentically being remorseful (even apologizing) and trying to change….making improvements to who you are.
At work we say the Divine Mercy Chaplet every day at 3PM.
One of the closing prayers reads as follows: Eternal God, in whom mercy is endless and the treasury of compassion inexhaustible, look kindly upon us and increase Your mercy in us, that in difficult moments we might not despair nor become despondent, but with great confidence submit ourselves to Your holy will, which is Love and Mercy itself.
God’s mercy is endless and He loves you more than you’ll ever know, no matter what you’ve ever done. He forgives you that much. We need to forgive ourselves.
As always, please feel free to contact me at [email protected] with comments, concerns, questions, or prayer requests.
God Bless you on your Path to Peace, Joy, and Fulfillment!!!
Remember…God made you for Greatness!!!