How to Stop Regret

by Debbie W. Wilson

Sometimes I’ve treated errors as catastrophes. I’ve felt worse over a mistake than over sin. Jesus paid for my sin, but I felt I had to pay for my mistakes. Maybe you can relate.

I bought a neutral colored jacket I thought would go with everything. But after I brought it home, I couldn’t find anything I wanted to wear with it. The time to return it ran out before I realized my purchase wasn’t as smart as I’d thought.

“If only I’d known,” I moaned.

That’s when I remembered Eve. The serpent told Eve that if she ate from the tree of knowledge, she would be like God (Genesis 3:5).

Was my “If only I’d known,” an echo of Eve’s obsession with the tree of knowledge? Was I trying to be like God—all-knowing? Was the desire “to know” a way to replace my need for God?

Too many times I’ve let decisions I’d like to do over (with the knowledge I’ve gained from time and experience) steal my peace. God’s Word and Spirit guide us, but in many non-essential areas we learn as we go. Even the boy Jesus “grew in knowledge.”

Here are some practices that have helped me avoid or handle regret.

Before a decision, ask God to lead.
That may mean asking Him to help me want His will. God’s will is always perfect. Mine is shortsighted and inconsistent.

I practiced this during a visit to Chicago. A pair of boots captivated me. They were a timeless style, fit like a glove, and gorgeous. It was snowing outside (I needed them). I peeked at the price. Gasp!

The next morning, I asked God to guide me as the desire for the boots still toyed with my mind. I opened my Bible and read out loud. “Spare no expense!” (Isaiah 54:2 NLT).

My daughter and I laughed. “Mom, you turned there on purpose.” I hadn’t, but it assured me God would lead me. When I tried the boots again, they rubbed my heels. I walked away without feeling deprived.

Before and after a decision, give thanks.
Even when a decision doesn’t turn out like we’d hoped, we thank God that He will use it for our good. “And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. (Rom. 8:28 NASB).

Maybe my jacket is meant for someone else or for another season. Perhaps it’s a reminder that God is bigger than my shortcomings.

After, let it go.
God created us to need Him. Joy comes from experiencing Jesus, not from avoiding mistakes.

There were two trees in the center of Eden. Satan diverted Eve away from the tree of life to the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Jesus is “the life” (Jn:14:6). Let’s not let a decision draw us away from Him.

“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”      John 10:10 NIV

debbie wilsonAbout the author: Drawing from her personal walk with Christ, twenty-four years as a Christian counselor, and decades as a Bible teacher, Debbie W. Wilson speaks, coaches, and writes to help others discover relevant faith. She is the author of Little Women, Big God and Give Yourself a Break. She and her husband, Larry, founded Lighthouse Ministries in 1991. Share her journey to refreshing faith at

Join the conversation: What pending or past decision wants to steal your peace?

3 thoughts on “How to Stop Regret

  1. Such a good post! A gentle reminder that we are a needy people in need of Jesus. How wonderful that, as we trust Him, He always turns our “mess” into our “message.” Praise His Holy Name! And thank You for your inspiring post. Many blessings!


  2. Good truth to mitigate the anxiety I feel making decisions at times. We’re not perfect, in our decisions or other ways. But I know the One who is perfect. I love that you write in a way to point us back to Jesus. Thank you.✝️


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