At some point in our lives, we have made mistakes that turned to lasting regrets. Regret is a feeling experienced as a result of past sins, bad decisions, negative behaviors and more. When most of us experience that feeling, we have a hard time repenting and as a result, we sink further into negative thoughts that may result in stress and health problems.
Unfortunately, regret prevents us from moving forward with our lives.
After we make mistakes, we have two choices: we can decide to sink into regrets and wallow in self-pity or we can take action with God’s strength to get over it. Regret will cause us to lose our peace of mind and eventually it will negatively affect other areas of our life. Repentance means turning away from the things that caused the regret, turning to God for His forgiveness, asking for forgiveness from those we hurt and also forgiving ourselves. Repentance will cause us to recover our peace. That is what turning back to God does: “The LORD lift up his face toward you, and give you peace.”- Numbers 6:26
Many times, I have found myself in a state of regret, which affects many areas of my life. To get back my joy, move forward and experience the beauty of life in Christ, here are the steps that helped me:
Determine the source: Where is the regret coming from? For example: immigration, less interaction with loved one, career path, relationships etc…
Name your feeling: How do you feel? For example: sad, lost, remorseful, angry or ashamed. Being aware of your emotions will help you direct your course of action. It will also show you when you have recovered from regret because the emotion you felt before would have changed to a positive one.
Decide to repent: If your regret is related to sin, not repenting will keep you stuck in your regrets. You need to repent to get back your peace, to be restored back to fellowship with God and move into a renewed purpose. Acts 3:9, NIV “Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord.”
Take action: What is next? The past cannot be changed but actions taken NOW can improve your next steps in life. Depending on the act, you might make decisions to improve some of your behaviors or to ask for forgiveness or to start all over.
Lessons learned: What did you learn from the past mistakes? This stage is very important as it allows you to grow wiser.
After taking these steps, incorporate these two habits into your life:
- Adopt a thankful habit: Instead of statements like “I should have….” “I could have….” “I can’t believe I….” “Why didn’t I…,”use statements of gratitude, such as “I can still…”, “I am thankful that I learned….”. In this way, besides owning your mistakes, you allow yourself to move on.
- Practice daily affirmation: “I AM Child of God, God has forgiven ME, I AM not going back to MY old Me, I AM worthy of a bright future.”
I say all this to encourage you that after a regretful past, it is still possible to wake up, stand up and decide to take the path of repentance and hope in Christ. Allow Jesus to transform you in such a way that His powerful grace helps you claim back your true identity. Rather than letting regret define your character, be more mindful by identifying consequences before deciding to act certain ways.
We can all transform our world in a positive way when we start first by transforming ourselves to become our best version God created us to be. Joy, peace and healthy relationships with God and others will follow when we are able to move past our regrets.