by Kathy Collard Miller @KathyCMiller
I sought the Lord, and he answered me; he delivered me from all my fears. Those who look to him are radiant. Psalm 34:4-5 NIV
Someone has said, “If you have one eye on yesterday and the other eye on tomorrow, you’ll look at today cross-eyed.”
That’s what regrets do to us. Regrets can paralyze us from thinking positively about God’s present working and even steal our enthusiasm for the future. We concentrate on a mistake from the past and fear the consequences of that regretful incident will continually hamper our future. Cross-eyed.
In fact, regrets are a form of worry—we worry with thoughts like, “if only I had treated my child better” or “if only I hadn’t said that to my friend.” Such worry keeps us focused in ourselves, making us unable to receive his loving approval, which would enable our efforts for His glory.
What can we do to fight against crippling regrets?
The Apostle Peter could easily have been paralyzed with regret. He’d denied knowing Jesus three times the night He was arrested. That one terrible failure had the potential to keep him from fulfilling God’s plan for his future. But after a conversation with Jesus on the beach, Peter knew he needed to move past his mistake. Without even a single mention of Peter’s big fail, Jesus told him: Take care of my sheep. (John 21: 17) Stop looking back. Keep focused on what God would have you do next.
From a Scriptural standpoint, the word “forget” means more than not remembering. Holding on to a regret entails being held hostage to the memory. It is not God’s will for us to be held captive by the past. Jesus already paid for that sin. So God has already forgiven it.
The key to overcoming regrets is to forgive ourselves and to forgive others. It is a choice to let go of focusing on the hurt we inflicted and the hurt that others have inflicted upon us. Our enemy, Satan, wants us to mentally bash ourselves over the head by tearing ourselves down. When we do that, there is no positive value. We will not earn back God’s approval (we already have it); we only dig ourselves into a pit of depression.
Isaiah 43:25 can motivate us to forgive ourselves. “I, even I, am he who blots out your transgressions, for my own sake, and remembers your sins no more” (NIV). At a time when I needed to forgive myself, I was struck by the phrase, “for My own sake.” I realized, Lord, You want to have fellowship with me because you love me so much. And if I am overcome by regrets, my ability to fellowship with you is compromised. I have distanced myself from Your empowerment to serve.
Are you condemning yourself for the past?
God wants you to embrace His forgiveness and empower you for godly living. Then you won’t be looking at life cross-eyed. Instead you will be eyeing the past, present, and future through the lens of Jesus’s cross!
About the author: Kathy Collard Miller wrote her book on trusting God more and overcoming worry because God was showing her how she was cross-eyed with regrets and fear. That book is titled Partly Cloudy with Scattered Worries. She has also written over 55 other books on various spiritual life topics. Kathy has spoken in more than 35 states and 9 foreign countries. She and her husband, Larry, are parents, grandparents, lay counselors, and often write and speak together. They live in Southern California. Visit her at www.KathyCollardMiller.com.
Join the conversation: Are there regrets in your life that have kept you from living in freedom? Or have you applied the forgiveness of the cross to prevent being spiritually cross-eyed?