Faith

Two Ways to Handle Regret

Whether you love Jesus or not, you live with regret. Your list might be different than mine, but believe me when I say regret can haunt your soul. There are things I did as a kid I cringe thinking about. Stuff I did as a teenager that I’d rather keep under wraps. We’ve all heard the analogy if your life was a movie, what scenes would you edit out?  

Survey Time

Take this quick survey of your regrets. No right or wrong answer, just a chance to at least mentally make note of things on your list: (This list is only a sampling. There is a slot for something you regret.)

REGRETCRINGE FACTOR
1= LITTLE 10= MASSIVE REGRET
I’M GOOD ON THIS ONE
ILLEGAL DRUGS
SEXTING
PROFANING YOUR PARENTS
THEFT
DRUNK
SEX WITH SOMEONE YOU ARE NOT MARRIED TO
HATRED
PORN ADDICTION
ABORTION
MISHANDLED FINANCES
GETTING FIRED
DIVORCE
ANGER TIRADES
OTHER

Hot Flash!

I can think of stuff I’ve said and done and this heatwave of emotions roll over me. My stomach cringes and I feel about one inch tall. “Someone, please take this regret away!”

There are essentially two ways to handle regret. 

REGRET

Option 1

1. Rationalize it away. Come up with any excuse for why you did what you did. Let’s say you got caught looking at porn. You can explain you were just tired and were surfing the web when it happened. It wasn’t you looking for it, it found you.

2. Repeat the sin. That’s right, when no one’s around, do it again. After all, you already have regret, so what’s a bit more going to hurt?

3. Ruin. A guy struggled big-time with porn while he was a teenager. He got married in his early twenties and things were going alright until he relapsed. Things took a nose-dive when his wife asked him to leave. His life was in shambles. And, this is a guy who loves Jesus.

4. Death. Death of relationships, of the future, of hope. A man lived for his career, at the expense of his family. One day, he came home to an empty house. His wife and kids left him. He nearly committed suicide. It took 25 years of trying to rebuild and nothing ever was the same again. 

Option 2

  1. Responsibility. A young warrior found himself in a bad situation. His forrays with porn were found out and he was confronted with them. Instead of rationalizing that his wife wasn’t great in bed, he owned his actions. “I have no excuse. I am responsible for my actions. I regret what I did. It is what it is. I am sorry.”
  2. Repent. This is probably the hardest to do, but the most essential in finding healing and hope. At the heart of true and lasting change is repentance. A total change of direction. What you initially liked, you are now repulsed by. Why? Because true repentance is what God does to a man’s heart when he sees that life without God leads to nowhere fast.
  3. Restitution. Jack stole money from his roommate. He got caught. He owned it and paid him back with interest. He made things right and worked on restoring trust.
  4. Reconciliation. Mike and David were good friends but being roommates didn’t work out so well. David moved out. Mike reached out to David and over the course of the next six months, they met weekly to hang out and work through Scripture on how to restore a relationship. Their friendship was reconciled.
  5. Restoration. God will not rewrite your history. What happened, happened. But, if given the opportunity, He will restore what was broken, making it stronger than before. Are you willing to be restored?
  6. Life. The husband who got caught with his pants down while looking at porn decided to take Option 2. Today, his marriage is on the mends and there is new life between the couple. It’s even impacting their children in a healthy way!

“For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret, whereas worldly grief produces death.” 2 Corinthians 7:10 ESV 

Which regret are you living with? My default is Option 1, but Option 2 always leads to life. 

Action Item

Take time to bring each regret to the Lord. His way is Option 2. 

Warrior On!

David Riffel is the Founder and Executive Director of www.Mentoring-Warriors.com. Having gone through his warrior years (18-30) essentially without a mentor, God has placed in him a heart for warriors, to come alongside them in various ways as they figure out life. David’s newly released book, Mentoring Warriors: Coming Alongside Young Men 18-30, outlines principles for mentoring and gives advice for warriors in six key areas of life: self-management, life skills, education/career, relationships, faith, and identity.

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