Saturday, July 18, 2015
LIVING WITHOUT REGRET-by Heidi McLaughlin
I attend a lot of funerals. My first husband died and I grasp the importance of just “showing up” to support family members during their grief. I have remarried and my new husband is a pastor to an age group 55 and older, so at this juncture of my life I am acquainted with many people who are moving into the final years of their life. Consequently I hear a myriad of eulogies and I'm always gripped with a deep sadness when I hear:
“I wish I would have made more time to be with mommy/daddy/sister/bother/friend.”
“I should have...”
Those are moments in time that we can never recapture. Missed opportunities leave us feeling sad, empty and sometimes we are angry that we have allowed the daily distractions of life to sabotage the important things that were left unfinished.
So I have made a decision. I do not want to come to the end of my life with regrets. I have learned to do something that I call: “Playing the movie forward”. Here is how it works: When I am faced with new opportunities, challenges or new creative ideas, I ask myself the question, “What will this look like in fifteen years?” Then I go through this process:
1. I feel it is crucially important that I keep my life in balance. Not too little or too much of anything. So I ask myself: “If I add this new ‘thing’ into the equation, will it bring my life out of balance for an extended period of time?”
2. How will it affect my relationship with my husband and family? Will I be so fatigued and zapped of energy that it will rob us of precious time that we could spend together?
3. Can I afford it financially, emotionally and physically?
4. Will it leave a valuable imprint in someone’s life or this world?
5. When I look back at this “thing” 15 years from now, will I be glad I did it?
In this confusing and complicated world it is so easy to get off track and succumb to the daily distractions and the demands around us. But, I was born to live with purpose so I choose to take care of my life and my heart so that I don’t feel the helpless and agonizing pain of regret.
But there are days when I blow it. It might be by stabbing someone with an unkind word or just choosing to ignore the pleading, helpless look in someone’s eyes. I can’t ignore my errors and heartlessly move on. That will ultimately cause regret. I need to make the wrong into a right. It is imperative that I forgive those whom I have hurt and then receive forgiveness from God so that I can let go of my own guilt and shame. The bible tells us that there will be difficult days. It says: “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world” (John 16:33 NIV). God sent His son Jesus into the world to help us overcome those days when we make a mess out of our life. That is when we need to look to Jesus and say, “Jesus, help me…” (With whatever difficulty you are experiencing right now).
Then we have to choose to receive Jesus’ forgiveness, learn from our mistakes and be determined to do better next time. We need to move forward fully engaged and be determined to live a life of “no regrets.”
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