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.

Hire a Thug

options for Christian voters

I received an email a few days back from an acquaintance. It was a forward, of course, of a message that had gone out to “reassure evangelical Christians” about recent endorsements from well-known figures within our faith community for Donald Trump. The theme, repeated over and over again, was that God is opening the door for us to hire a thug.

No, the word “thug” was never used. That would be too startling and upsetting. No, this is a direct quote:

Maybe God is trying to tell us something important- that now is not the time for a “nice Christian guy” or a “gentleman” or a typical Republican powder puff. Maybe now is the time for a natural born killer, a ruthless fighter, a warrior.

And some of you who are reading this might agree. That’s your choice.

I’ve heard all of the arguments in favor of the position taken in this recent email, including those “supported” by the Bible. I find it disquieting that none of that comes within the perspective of John 3:16.

I suppose all I’m saying here is that we live in a country where we have a lot of freedom, including that of voting for anyone we choose. Exercise that freedom.

I would also ask that you exercise that freedom in what you communicate. Please don’t dress up a thug in his Sunday suit and try to pass him off as God’s answer. Don’t pretend he’s representing our values when every other statement he makes screams otherwise.

Your choice this election year is a challenge. Vote. Support whichever candidate you believe will be the best President. But don’t use God as an excuse for your choices.

Toward a More Contemplative Lifestyle

and why that can be downright scary

I’ve always wanted to be a great thinker. Unfortunately, I have discovered that it requires me to be more contemplative.

Contemplative

photo credit: Matthew Wiebe/unsplash.com

Spending time raking through my thoughts is not always my idea of a good time. In fact, at the end of a trying day I often just go to bed and flip that big switch marked “I don’t want to think about it any more.” The great thing is that God made our brains to restore and renew themselves so some sorting and other helpful things happen when I’m asleep. I’ve often thought that I am much more intellectually effective when I’m asleep. Was it not for my snoring, I think that others would agree.

I do want to encourage contemplation — both in my self and others. Watching political debates and “person-on-the-streets” interviews during the last few months has convinced me that most of us don’t do enough in terms of contemplation. Instead, we use our most primal instincts — those of fear and satisfaction of our basic desires — to take a position and dedicate our very being to it. Some of those positions go beyond just being. Some of them will require our very souls.

I saw a meme on the internet this morning. It went something like this:

The Case for Contemplation
The dead are unaware that they are dead. Their existence continues. The consequences of their deaths are felt only by those around them. In that way, striking similarities exist between those who have died and those who fail to think.

We all face tough decisions. It will take an effort. But let’s all be more contemplative.

A Brand New Year!

A brand new year!

It is always my hope that I will do better in a new year. Better diet, more exercise, less sin, more friends, and a lot more family.

Yet, I never seem to get there.

Pounds cling to my body, chances to stretch and to strengthen are too often left by the wayside, I do what I want — even when I don’t really want it, I sit alone and I think about me too much.

I’m excited about a brand new year. Despite my failings to improve in my 60+ years, I still have hope. In fact, in many ways I have done better year after year at many of these resolutions. It’s just that I have had such a long way to travel — and the path stretches out in front of me for quite a ways.

As I age, I’m becoming more and more aware of the danger of emphasizing SELF-improvement over a joyous, focused effort to walk closely with God.

Better times are often less a product of what we avoid and more the result of what we actively pursue.

That’s where we should be headed this year. No doubt, we may veer from that course from time to time. But with eyes trained on Him, we can’t help but do better.

Happy New Year!

Socially Medium

I have to admit that there are times that I would like to close down my social media accounts. To bend a phrase of Winston Churchill, “Never was so much bad said about so few by so many.” It is the ease and spontaneity of social media that makes it so great and so damaging — all at once. In fact, observing the rancor and the vile ideas that are often promoted, I have found myself becoming socially medium.

Photo on 7-13-14 at 7.39 AM

 

“Socially medium” is the online equivalent of the passive bystander — quietly observing the mayhem of a moment and then slipping unnoticed into the crowd.

I wonder how many of us are out there being socially medium.

Don’t hear this as a call to join the boisterous inanity of those who attribute evil to practically everything. And, you know who you are. Perhaps we all should be thinking about who we are and what we stand for and make sure that we are, indeed, standing.

I know. Being socially medium keeps us out of the controversy and safe from the attacks of others. But being socially medium also allows us to simply not think and never do if we let it become our standard.

A step away from being socially medium takes us to a place where we think, where we explore new ideas and perspectives, and where we become curious. Dialog builds relationships. Relationships build communities. Communities, when bonded over care and concern for others, become the birthing place of all manner of goodness.

Care to join me as I think more, explore more, and feed my curiosity?