“Don’t blink,” they say.
I remember hearing that when he was a brand new baby and I found it super annoying.
Blink?! Seriously?! How about SLEEP? I would have enjoyed one LONG 5-hour blink.
There is no tired in the whole world like “New Baby in the House” tired, right? It seemed to me that the exhausting newborn stage was going to last FOR-E-VER. I wasn’t sure I was going to survive it.
I know when folks say “Don’t blink,” it’s meant with good intentions. “Don’t blink” means “you’ll be amazed how fast the time is going to go, so you better keep your eyes open so you won’t miss anything!”
They were right. It did go fast. So stinking fast. I don’t know who coined the phrase, “The days are long, but the years are short,” but they’re right.
Back when I flipped the calendar over to May, I found myself face-to-face with a date that seemed so far away not so long ago…graduation. He’ll graduate from High School this month. For the life of me, I don’t know how that happened.
While I find myself feeling a mixture of sad and sentimental that this chapter of our lives is almost over, I’m very excited, too. I’m excited for everything he’ll experience and for the “new beginning” college will be for him. I’m excited about the friends he’ll make and the lessons he’ll learn. I’m excited about how God is going to use this next chapter to mold him into the man He intends for him to be.
But in the midst of all of the nostalgia and excitement, I find myself dancing around with an old, familiar partner: Regret.
Regret and I have danced a few times before. I know this partner well.
Regret is a stupid jerk-face that likes to show up, usually in the quiet of the nighttime, and yell in my ear that “everything is ruined” and “nothing good has happened.” In my experience, regret is loud and bossy and rude. Regret wants me to spend my time constantly looking behind me, reliving poor decisions and actions. When it comes to this particular season of motherhood, regret really wants me to wallow in the times I have failed as a mom. Believe me, there are plenty of instances for regret to bring to mind.
In this dance, I find myself feeling regret over the things I didn’t do, didn’t say, or said too loudly. I feel regret for decisions made, consequences that were unrealistic, and opportunities missed. Hindsight, they say, is 20/20. I can always see what I “should have done” so clearly once the opportunity to do so has passed. Tell me that happens to you, too?
See, if I dance with regret long enough, I get dizzy and disoriented and forget which way is up. And that’s just what regret is hoping for! Regret wants to teach me a history lesson, but not a whole one. A history lesson that only includes the bad parts (the mistakes), but doesn’t include the good (the forgiveness), is really not a complete lesson. Teachers who don’t tell the whole truth should be fired, shouldn’t they?
What is regret’s motivation?
I think it’s simple.
Regret lives to steal joy.
And what is the remedy for regret?
That’s simple, too.
Truth. Specifically, God’s Truth.
See, nothing shuts down regret faster than Truth.
Regret says, “You could have been a better mother to him.”
Truth says, “I was chosen by God to be his mother. I’m a human. God’s been aware of that all along. He knew I’d need forgiveness and has granted it through His Son.”
Regret says, “Your son is only going to remember the times you failed/yelled/were distracted.”
Truth says, “He’s also going to remember the times I asked for forgiveness, showed up when it was hard, and helped him succeed in crazy, wonderful ways.”
Regret says, “This chapter is over. Look at how you failed.”
Truth says, “Yes, this chapter is over, but a new one is beginning. God will be just as much in the new chapter as He was in the old one. In God’s economy, even our failures can be used for His glory.”
Regret wants me to forget the truth and to only see my life through a lens of loss.
God’s Truth just isn’t having any of that.
No, God’s Truth redeems and makes things whole again. His Truth calms storms and heals the sick. His Truth even takes the ordinary, everyday mistakes of a mom in Alabama and uses them to teach and mold a boy into the image of His Son. Go figure. God does amazing things. Held up against that kind of power, regret doesn’t stand a chance!
When regret invites you out onto the dance floor, you have a choice whether or not you’ll go. You can tell it to take a hike. Truth is what shows it back to its seat.
And if you find yourself out on the dance floor wishing you hadn’t agreed to dance in the first place, remember that you don’t have to let regret take the lead. It is pushy, but ridiculously weak. At their core, bullies usually are, you know. You can totally overtake it with truth. In no time at all, you’ll see regret sulk away. Bless its heart…it tries so hard.
So, whatever season of life you find yourself in, remember that God’s Truth covers every situation you face!
Well, you really don’t have much time for that, do you?
You’ve got too much of a life to live! You’ve got people to love! It’s way more fun to dance with them, anyway.
This article originally appeared at Shadesofmercyandgrace.com.