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April 20, 2010 - Betsy Bethel

What do people actually mean when they say they have no regrets?

When I hear someone say that, usually in an interview, I want to say: "Really?" in that way everyone says it these days. (Who started that, by the way?)

I mean, cuz I have regrets ... ALL the time.

For example, I regret scarfing down that milkshakey-Reese's-thingy at Sonic last night at 10 p.m.

And what about that ONE time I let my 4-year-old have a cookie at breakfast? Hoo boy, did I come to regret that. There's bleary-eyed, pre-coffee me, simply trying to get a bowl of Raisin Bran in front of her, and I am blasted with: "I want a cookie! Can my have a cookie!? I don't WANT Raisin Bran; I — want — a — COOOK-IEEEE!"

Yeah. That was a mistake.

There are bigger things, too. I'm not going to get into those personally, but you know, we ALL do stupid things from time to time. We're none of us perfect, right?

So, are people who say they have no regrets saying they've led a perfect life? It comes off that way sometimes. When I hear that phrase, I wonder, "Well, what's the matter with me, then?"

In talking with my husband about it, we came up with the idea that if you learn something from your goof-ups, then there's nothing to regret. But I can still poke a hole in that theory. Don't you regret that time you played chicken on the bike path with another bike rider and you lost? You might have learned not to do that again, but you still have your arm in a cast for six weeks! I bet you regret it!

Fact is, I regret certain things. And sure, I've learned from some of my mistakes —  even the painful ones. OK ... especially the painful ones.

Maybe I'm over-thinking this whole thing. Maybe it's all a matter of semantics. When I finally looked it up (a second ago) in my online dictionary, I found the word "regret" has a sort-of sadness associated with it, like you did something stupid and you can't get over it. I am not sad. I am not morose. I am not hung up on the past or trying to re-live the past.

I think what's important is that we not DWELL on our mistakes.

Despite any regrets, I am ready to tackle each new day and whatever it brings my way, using all my life experiences and all the promises of God to help me. My grandmother had a wooden plaque in her kitchen that read: "Dear God, Help me to remember that nothing is going to happen today that you and I can't handle together." Can I get an Amen?

I am thankful that when I do something stupid and ask for forgiveness, I am forgiven. Come what may, I have a clean slate with my Creator.

So when my life's work is nearly done and someone asks me if I have any regrets, I have decided that's what I'll say. With a Mona Lisa smile and a little shrug, I'll reply: "I am forgiven."



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