Do you look back over your life and feel any regret over choices you’ve made? Do you wish you had done anything differently? Do you pine over careers other than the one you chose? Do cities, states or countries other than where you live call to you for adventure and lifestyle? Do you wish you had met God sooner in your life? Can you think of specific circumstances that would have changed the trajectory of your life if you had consulted God and followed His guidance? Psalm 137 is a song of pain and regret. The Israelites mourned their choices of idolatry and disobedience to God while their lives were safe and good. These selfish and dishonoring choices landed them a humiliating march from their homeland to Babylon and forced captivity by cruel captors. Loved ones were killed. They lost almost everything they owned. The city of Jerusalem and the temple were destroyed. They mourned the loss of their pleasant and blessed pasts. They were suffering, in pain and they were full of regret.
It is easier to see the good when we are experiencing the not so good. Sometimes we take good things for granted and assume they will always be good. It isn’t until those good things change or go away that we notice how much we enjoyed them, valued them or appreciated them. I recently read Kimberly Williams-Paisley’s book, “Where the Light Gets In” that tells of her experience living through her mom’s battle with a rare form of dementia. Kim was being emotionally and mentally knocked down every time her mom had an incident or lost another skill. Kim and her therapist came up with a new way of thinking for Kim to help her through the slow loss of her mother’s personhood. “Don’t look at what you’re not getting from your mother. Look at what you are getting.” Through the difficult circumstances of her mom’s deterioration she decided to view the “hard” as “not only an opportunity to love unconditionally, but her mom’s situation allowed her to practice being comfortable with what is uncomfortable. To grieve and also embrace what is broken. To know that some days she could receive who her mother is now and some days she struggled with it. She wanted things to be the way they were. Letting go of what used to be was the hardest act, and yet the most liberating.” While the pain and sadness in Kim’s life came from disease, not as consequences of disobedient choices she made, she responded with practical and Godly wisdom that applies to so many difficult circumstances that we may be facing because of poor choices or just tough circumstances.
~Instead of focusing on what we have lost, or what we regret, look for the ways that God has protected, saved and preserved.
~Focus on loving others unconditionally instead of looking at what you have lost.
~Grieve the losses and let go of what used to be so you can move forward with healing and repair.
(It goes without saying that if we are in tough circumstances because we made poor choices, the first step needs to be asking for forgiveness from God and changing our actions from sin to right living. If we don’t make right our relationship with Him there will be no repair. If others were wronged because of our poor choices, we will need to ask forgiveness from them also before steps can be taken to change our focus.)