There are two types of regret.
1) OTHERS CHOICES – regretting something done to me.
2) MY CHOICES – regretting something I chose to do.
The first form of regret is very real. We all have memories and experiences we need to find healing for and people we need to forgive in the process. These regrets are tragic and everyone has them.
Yet I think the second type of regret is wholly avoidable. The answer is not found in knowing the right thing to do or understanding the consequences of our choices. The answer is not found in higher accountability. These are good things, but these are reactions to our regrets and our sin. They are playing defense. They are practical ways to deal with current regrets.
I think everything we struggle with in terms of our choices, of doing those things we do not want to do, can be traced back to a time when we chose to walk away from the grandness of our story.
Try something fun. Pick anything you struggle with. Pick out a random sin you wish you could overcome.
Once you have written it down, ask the question, why? Why do I feel so insecure? I have had relative success in life and yet no matter the level of success I find, the need is still there. Let me give you an example. When I was eighteen I met someone who I though was cool. This person loved Sarah Mclachlan (the singer). Sarah was a Canadian from Vancouver and so was I. So I told this person that Sarah was my sisters best friend. Ben Sherriff, if you ever read this, it was a lie. My sister and Sarah never met.
Years later I have a published book and my film company is doing OK. Yet still I have this nagging insecurity. Just the other day I had a conversation where I presented some work I am pitching on, which would be amazing as if I actually sell it, as if I had already sold it. I never actually said I sold it, but I implied it.
So, when I look at this sin, this problem in my life, I understand that I need to find accountability and try to see the consequences of my actions. I realize I need to change my actions. But this is what I was writing about. This is living a life of defense.
What if I had lived life differently as a child? What if I had chosen to live life fully awake? I think almost all of my BIG problems now stem from a some seemingly insignificant choices I made as a child.
What if I had jumped from the tree into the reservoir when I was twelve. The tree was high and I sat on the branch for a full hour before I climbed down in fear. For many years I felt like a failure and a “chicken” for not jumping in. This feeling of failure defned many of the other choices I made that year. I didn’t step out and make friends, instead I sat in my corner and watched others “jump in” and find friendship, but not me.
What if I had asked Vicky Hicks to have lunch with me in the sixth grade? I was too young to date her, but all I really wanted was to spend time talking to her. I dreamed of it for a full year. But I chose not to ask her because I was afraid she might say no. That fear translated itself into my believing I was not good enough to talk to girls. And this was an issue for many, many years.
And the list goes on.
And this list leads me to wonder, what choices am I making today that will transform into my struggles, into my sins years from now? What opportunities am I closing my eyes to that will define me for years to come? I don’t want to play defense. I want to embrace the fullness of my story and take every opportunity to live life to the fullest. A life without regret is not impossible, it is the way we are meant to live.