Walking the lonely path of regret



Regret — it can be a tortuous wave of despair that keeps on rolling over and over through our lives.

Whether it be one momentary lapse of good judgment or a season of unhealthy patterns that form the perfect storm, the actual event that leads to regret changes everything. And it is rarely ever a solo punch.

Most often the lives of everyone connected to the person suffering from regret are changed in some way — and some forever.

It is more than being disappointed about getting caught or offering false remorse for receiving negative pushback. It is a genuine feeling of repentance that grips us at the center of our soul.

Regret is a true feeling of remorse, deep repentance and extreme sadness over what has happened. You will know it when you see it. The humility, the despair, the brokenness seep from the person’s pores.

Surviving the initial blow, humiliation and blowback is the first step. And while that first step is hard the lonely journey that follows might be even harder for the truly repentant.

Space for grace

But brokenness leaves the regret-filled person with a choice just as it offers those around them an opportunity.

For the person walking through regret, it can provide a space for God to show us His grace in a way never experienced before. When we know more of the depth of our sin and brokenness, we can marvel even more at the unfathomable love and forgiveness offered to us through Christ.

Power in the pain

But we have to make that choice. We have to choose to let those painful memories drive us to worship and experience gratitude for our forgiveness. We have to choose to let our pain push us toward Christ and away from deeper sin.

And for people who are surrounding the person carrying regret, it’s a chance to remember God’s grace and remember our own sins too.

None of us is perfect. We all have the ability to dive headlong into sin. We have to call each other to right choices, but when someone is truly repentant, we can choose to walk alongside our broken brother or sister in love.

That’s who we are. We strive for holiness. We repent with sincere hearts. We bind up our wounded. The key is real repentance — and real love.

—Jennifer Davis Rash

Finding our way back to Him

Parable of Lost Son

Luke 15

He knew he had walked away from God — far, far away — and he couldn’t imagine God would take him back, much less forgive him. His hands were dirty and he convinced himself he would need to figure out how to become clean before seeking forgiveness from God.

But without God he could never be purified.

With the help of a persistent group of prayer warriors and friends who refused to give up on him, the young man eventually found his way back to God. He is growing in the Lord now and helping those he hurt heal from the intense pain he caused.

Shea Lowery, executive director of Lives Being Restored, shares a similar experience about her life story and how there was a time she truly believed God would not want her. With God’s tugging and the love and care of a group of accountability partners, she found her way back to Him and now leads a ministry to help other believers in need of restoration (www.livesbeingrestored.com).

Finding renewal and restoration

Both of these restored believers are teaching me as I watch them maneuver through their faith journeys. The richness of what they are learning and experiencing in the Lord, the depth of their renewed faith, the incredible turnaround in both their lives — it is inspiring.

It also reminds me that we all play a vital role in each other’s lives as believers. We need each other as accountability and prayer partners.

None of us is immune to being attacked by the enemy nor is any one of us strong enough to avoid the various temptations of the world on our own.

It might be alcohol and/or drugs for one person while another struggles with lustful thoughts and actions. Still another may be tempted with greed and personal possessions while the next person battles busyness and ambitious goals outside the calling of God. And then there is laziness, selfishness and other seemingly benign actions that actually hinder our growth in the faith and possibly harm others along the way.

Attacks will come but there is One who is greater

Believers, just like nonbelievers, are attacked by the enemy at our weakest point. The difference is we have the power of the Holy Spirit within us. And if we allow Him to take charge, then we have the ability to fight.

It doesn’t mean any part of the journey is easy nor does it mean we won’t slip up from time to time, but it does mean we have the answer to defeat the enemy if we are truly walking with the Lord and seeking His face.

We can always come home

It is when we take our eyes off Jesus, stop meditating on the Word and spend too little time in prayer that we leave ourselves vulnerable. When we stop guarding the door to our hearts we will find ourselves walking on the wrong path. At some point we will realize we’ve gotten off track. And while “the sooner the better” definitely applies for the purposes of the people we will hurt along the way, the mercy of the Father is consistent no matter how far we’ve strayed.

He will be right there with open arms ready to take us back, cleanse our dirty hands and restore us fully to Himself, exactly how Jesus describes in the parable of the Prodigal Son (Luke 15). When we finally come to our senses and see clearly, we realize God never moved. We were the ones who walked away, drowning out the sound of His voice and the drawing of His Spirit with the gleam of whatever worldly temptation caught our eye.

—Jennifer Davis Rash