The Art of Regret

living with less than perfect

Coming face to face with regret has become a daily routine for me. Perhaps it’s because I’ve become more contemplative. Or maybe it’s just because all of those things-I-should-or-shouldn’t-have-done have just reached critical mass and the momentum is simply overpowering. If it’s the latter, I regret that.

I came across this quote and found some comfort there.

Author Unknown
Never be defined by your past. It was just a lesson, not a life sentence.

In the interest of full disclosure, you should know that I copied it on an envelope yesterday and forgot about it . . . and threw the envelope in recycling. I regret that.

Fortunately, I retrieved it and I have it. Reading through it again, I am impressed with its wisdom and would really like to know who said it. But, a quick search online yielded nothing. So, for now, this source of wisdom is simply unknown. I regret that.

I had dinner with an old friend this week and discovered things that I wish I had known — of difficulties and triumphs in his life. And a rediscovery of why he was a friend and has stayed a friend, though distant, all these years. In those discoveries, I realized I had missed some truly great things. I regret that.

I sat with two more recent friends who are going through something terrifying. Talked and texted with two more whose marriages are suffering. Saw pictures that reminded me of things I wished I could do. Remembered moments that I failed. Realized that it will be hard to make amends. I regret all of that.

We face our regrets most often with statements beginning, “I wish . . .” Yet, I know that I was called to have more than regrets. I am empowered to do more than wish. For just like the rest of you, I was given a new day and a chance to do better. I can never fully repair all the things I have broken nor accomplish all the things that were possible. But in this new day, I can make a better decision, have a longer conversation, find more patience within me, seek moments for peace and reconciliation.

And even though I most likely will mess up, I have no regrets for the new days ahead.

Regret is simply a teacher, the lesson learned a treasure.

End the Fear

I am fortunate because I have friends from diverse cultural backgrounds. However, I am remiss for my failures to consistently seek understanding of the life experiences — the trials and the celebrations — of those who are different from me. I don’t see such things as race, ethnicity, religion, or sexual orientation as a barrier to prevent me from loving them. But perhaps the problem is that I just don’t see. I just don’t fully understand. That is a symptom of my privilege. On numerous occasions I have had to ask for patience and forgiveness as I’ve stumbled from a lack of sensitivity. Sensitivity is only a starting point. Each one of us must take action. That action should begin with a deepening of our relationships. And we must address our fear.
 
We have had too many tragedies triggered because of our “differences.” Whether it be skin color, religion, gender, or political persuasion, we need to understand that all of this is God’s creation. All the differences are part of God’s creativeness and are meant to bring us joy. Instead of joy, we are bringing fear to God’s party.
 
Terrible things have been happening. Some have been addressed. Some answers have come very slowly. Some answers seem impossible to find.
 
Violence is not one of those answers. Sadly, violence is part of the cycle that demands law and order. And law and order can go astray quickly in the face of fear. Those steps backward do not justify the end of law and order. That fear does not justify unequal treatment.
 
Today is a sad day in Dallas, Texas. Our hearts and our prayers are with that city, with the families who have empty chairs at their tables this morning, with the citizens who are enduring a time when fear seems to be the safest place because of the vigilance it brings.
 
But remember that yesterday was a sad day somewhere else — in Louisiana, in Minnesota, in Istanbul . . .
 
If we are to fully accept our roles as God’s children, we have to stop taking sides. We must seek relationship with those who see things differently and even those who adamantly disagree with us. If we don’t, we are left only with fear. No understanding. No blessed intimacy with others who can teach us so much about what God truly wants.
 
Please end the fear. Talk to people. All people. Pray for people. All people. Perhaps while we are praying, God will provide a holy space where we can make better decisions, choose better words, take a different course of action.
 
 
To those among my friends who this post offends or disturbs. I will not ask that you unfriend me or obliterate my blogsite from your internet, although that is your choice. It has become all too easy in this world to press that “unfriend” button. I would ask that you be respectful of me, however. I will be glad to talk with you about anything. Social media can be a wonderful place to bring understanding. However, it often lacks the context of that blessed moment when two people come together. Remember, Jesus specifically identified that space as a place he’ll join us.  Thanks in advance for listening to me, even if you disagree.

Sunday Morning

wrestling with rest

Nancy and I were honored to share Easter worship service with Judson. It was a special Sunday morning, because it was Judson’s first Easter.

Sunday Morning

photo credit: Laura Lee Moreau/unsplash.com

Two months old, Judson was a living reminder of new life and new energies. I spent much of the service smiling and watching and smiling and watching. But not every moment was a scene from a Hallmark movie.

Judson became a little restless, although I don’t recall a single tear or moment of distress. What I do remember with great emotion are the moments he became weary of his surroundings and began to doze off. Something peaceful settled on me as I watched this little one fade into slumber.

But it took a while for sleep to come. Even though a nap was what he needed, Judson fought it off as long as he could. His mother’s gentle rocking, the pacifier, and the touch of his blanket were worthy foes to his wakefulness. He was a gallant little soldier, yet sleep won out.

Judson’s efforts remind me of our own. Coming out of the difficulties and meaning of a Friday when our Savior is torn from us and the mourning of Saturday when our world is upside down, Sunday morning finds us reunited and hopeful and resolute to live life anew. Then, when things seem to be going well, God calls a timeout and places a needed rest — a Sabbath — in our way. And we fight it. We push it away despite its call to calmness and restoration. After all, this new life has lots of nooks and crannies to explore. How can we afford to lean back into His arms and rest?

How can we not?

The next time you are weary, leave it to God. Close your eyes and let Him take control. Your life will only be better. After all, it’s Sunday morning.

Saturday Mourning

Death is a natural consequence of life We all have been touched by the loss of someone close to us. The initial shock of that loss begins at the moment the last breath was taken — a shock that can last for days, months, and even years. And then there are those milestone moments when, at a given day or time, we realize that we are facing those markers alone — without our loved one. After the crucifixion and death of Jesus on Friday, his family, friends, and followers awoke to a Saturday they weren’t prepared for. In this Saturday mourning, they found themselves with questions, wanting to believe in resurrection but faced with the harsh reality of a silent grave.

Saturday Mourning

photo credit: Forrest Cavale/unsplash.com

This was a Saturday and a day of Sabbath for Christ’s followers that brought no rest. It was a day of doubts and fears. And, oh, such incredible sadness.

But Saturday mourning brought something else. A stirring experienced by even the strongest believers that plans should be made and new courses charted. The bits of uncertainty begin to clump together and the inner voices began to assert, “It’s all up to me. I am in control. Take charge and put aside all else.”

Yet, the message of Jesus’ life is one that says, “I am enough . . . Leave your burdens to me.” In the dark recesses of Saturday mourning, our earthly clinging causes us to desperately claw at what’s around us, demanding to understand, demanding to make things right, and sincerely pleading for all the broken pieces to be put back together again. And a stubborn determination to do it all ourselves.

Saturday mourning is a necessary part of the walk through the valley of death. For when we finally throw ourselves, exhausted, on the bed of our human frailty, we begin to see the outlines of sunrise on a new horizon. And in the waning moments of Saturday mourning, we begin to hear God’s voice, “It’s all up to me. I am in control. I am in charge and you need nothing else.”

Oh, my God! Good Friday!

Never in the history of the world have so many people called out to God as they do today. The problem is that they do it, in the language of my faith heritage, “in vain.” Our Creator is called on to damn things on one end of the spectrum and to observe the cuteness of puppies on the other. But today is a day that is fitting to tweet and to post OMG! It’s Good Friday!

Good Friday

photo credit: Breno Machado/unsplash.com

This is the day that the universe slows down as it remembers a day of prayer, betrayal, trial, injustice, torture, anguish, prayer, death, and loss. Today is the day that angels hold their breath and theologians shove their hands in their cloaks to cross their fingers. Today is the day we wait to see if the foundations of Heaven will be shaken. Oh, my God! It’s Good Friday!

This Friday is the heart-stopping crest of the roller coaster of Holy Week. Today is that moment the Ferris Wheel chair shudders and swings limply in the wind . . . and you can hear the clear groan of steel under stress. This Friday is the day that hearts hurt so much that we call out for relief. Oh, my God! It’s Good Friday!

This day is bearable now, after centuries of history, because we know of the days to follow. We know the mourning of Saturday and the morning of Sunday. For many, this day is a holiday with weight placed other places . . . with projects to do and people to see. For others, it’s only another day. And for those who see no difference, we pray. Oh, my God! It’s Good Friday!

We have a Savior. He is Christ, the Lord. Whether you carry His story with you or continue to look for the Answer, I hope just for a moment, you’ll pause and say, “Oh, my God! It’s Good Friday!”