“The Moving Finger writes; and, having writ,
Moves on: nor all thy Piety nor Wit
Shall lure it back to cancel half a Line,
Nor all thy Tears wash out a Word of it.”—Omar Khayyám
Some things in life just can’t be undone. They can’t be fixed. They can’t be resolved.
Many of us struggle every day under the crippling weight of regrets that can’t be spiritualized away or ignored.
In a previous post I discussed areas, whether by accident or poor intention, we’ve created a mess we can’t fix. Years pass and these unresolved tensions and regrets continue to haunt us.
God may take our tragic mistakes and work them out for good, but what do we do in the meantime? And even after time has created scar tissue around those sensitive areas, how do we deal with the moments we realize it may never feel entirely healed?
If you haven’t read part one, take a moment to do so before reading these other suggestions for dealing with remorse:
Learn what you can
I know. I know. We’re told to learn from our tragedies so often that it’s a clichè. I get it.
But if people typically learned valuable lessons from their experiences, the world would be a more delightful place. The truth is . . . they usually don’t.
While I don’t subscribe to the idea that God tosses terrible things into our lives to teach us lessons, I think the lessons are intrinsically there. We just need to learn to ask the right questions.
- What does my behavior reveal about me?
- How would I respond if I was who I want to be?
- What need was I trying to fill with my actions?
- How can I avoid responding in fear or anger?
- Where is Jesus in this situation?
- What do I need to do now?
Much of the time, the things we need to learn aren’t about the situation per se, they’re about what the situation reveals.
You cannot learn these lessons through osmosis. Learning from experience is hard, proactive work.
Yesterday isn’t tomorrow’s final word
We spend a lot of time judging others for their behavior and ourselves for our intentions. We need to be honest—we are what we do. We can’t afford to allow ourselves the luxury of pretending we’re one thing when we’re obviously another. And our behavior is the best indicator of who we are.
But . . .
What you did yesterday doesn’t have to define who you are tomorrow. This is the wonder and miracle of grace.
That’s important to remember because remorse is going to try and convince you otherwise. The accuser (through the machinations of your own conscience) will try to convince you that you’ll always be who you were at your worst moment.
It’s also important to remember because some people will define you by your most shameful moments, too. There’s nothing you can do about it except pray for their best and move forward. But you can’t let yourself get mired in their opinion.
Remorse, a form of shame, was never intended to be experienced. Now that it’s been introduced into this world, we need to use it to our advantage and allow it to drive us to Christ—the one who can guarantee that tomorrow isn’t defined by today.