October 6, 2017

“Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect; but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. Brethren, I do not consider that I have made it my own; but one thing I do, forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” – Philippians 3:12-14

Regret is something we all experience. Here are some of my greatest hits:

I shouldn’t have said that.

Why did I do that?

What was I thinking?

Sound familiar? These thoughts are normal, but I’ve piled too much regret on myself over the years. I’m that “perfectionist” trying to navigate life without hitting any icebergs. I’m always re-evaluating what I’ve done in the past.

That’s the problem. I’m looking back too often. I need to stop focusing on regrets – “what lies behind” as the apostle Paul wrote – and make the decision to look forward to the things I can actually control.

If only there was a crystal ball in life, right? Then we could avoid every mistake! But since that’s not reality, the next best thing usually comes to mind… the advice of those who are older than me.

Bronnie Ware is an author who worked in palliative care. She treasured many conversations with people during their final weeks of life, saying, “People grow a lot when they are faced with their own mortality.” There were common themes among all of them when reflecting on life’s regrets:

– I wish I hadn’t worked so much (missing family time).

– I wish I had the courage to express my feelings (to let go of bitterness).

– I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.

– I wish I had let myself be happier.

But the most common regret? “I wish I had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.”

I’ve been guilty of trying to “play a role” in the past. It led to some soul searching and a move across the country to chase dreams. I’m fortunate that I was able to figure out what’s important in life before it was too late.

I’m looking forward to St. Luke’s new sermon series this Sunday, “Things You Won’t Regret.” Amazing things happen when we choose to be kind, help others, and be grateful.

Bronnie said every single patient found their peace before they departed.

Let’s find our peace today. Happiness really is a choice. A choice we won’t regret.

Ed Doney