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Erasing Regrets

In just a couple of days we’ll be ushering in 2015. For me each year seems to start out slow, but by September I begin to wonder where it went. And as the last few days approach many of us start to look at setting goals and making resolutions.

But what do we do with the year we’re leaving behind?

Do you find yourself ending the year with regrets? If we’re honest I think most of us do. They may not be huge disappointments, maybe something we have been trying to overcome for a while that we feel we made no progress on again this year. Or that little thing that nags at us and won’t seem to let go.

Starting a new year positively is much easier when we erase regrets, make things right inside and out, and allow ourselves to move on to a fresh new adventure.

erasing regrets

Here are some thoughts on letting go and leaving the negatives of 2014 behind:

1. Be Truthful With Yourself
Sometimes I lie to myself about something that is nagging at me. I want to have put it behind me or not let it bother me but truthfully I’m hanging onto it. Once I admit that I’m having a hard time letting go I can begin steps to truly do so.

2. Write It Down
Writing down regrets makes them concrete. It makes them real. Whether it’s a word or two or multiple pages of thoughts and feelings, putting regrets in writing helps to let go of them. And once you’ve made the decision to let go you can rip up the paper as a symbolic gesture of ridding your life of that weight.

3. Pray About It
Is there a reason you are hanging onto this particular regret? What does God have to say about it? Ask Him to show you if there is something you need to do for proper closure. Have you forgiven or asked for forgiveness? Have you done your best to make retribution where necessary? Remember what God says in about holding on to regret:

There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death.    Romans 8:1-2 ESV

While God desires us to admit our sins and sometimes disciplines us, after that He’s done.

12 For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
    so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him;
12 as far as the east is from the west,
    so far does he remove our transgressions from us.
13 As a father shows compassion to his children,
    so the Lord shows compassion to those who fear him.
Psalm 103: 11-13 ESV

If God is telling you that you’ve done all you need to do and it’s time to move forward, do so. If he removes our sins and forgets them, why shouldn’t we? Ask for His help in letting go.

4. Stop Thinking About It
It might sound over-simplified but once we’ve determined we need to move on from a past mistake or unmet goal we are hanging onto it all comes down to choice. We choose to continue to dwell on it or not. When something God has told us to let go of comes to mind we need to shut down that thought. Choose to think about something else. Consider Philippians 4:8

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.

4. Ask For Help If Needed
There are times we need an accountability partner to remind us of our decision and ask us about our progress in areas we are struggling. If you are having trouble letting go on your own find a trusted friend or professional to keep tabs on how you are doing. Often for me just knowing someone is going to ask me about a particular struggle helps me to move forward and make progress.

As the new year approaches, take some time to consider the past year. Remember what is valuable and let go of what is not. The process may take some time but there’s no better time to get started. As we ring in 2015 we can hopefully echo these words of Paul:

13 Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.
Philippians 3:13-14 ESV

Blessings and peace to you as you turn the calendar, leaving regrets behind.

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‘Tis the time of the year to celebrate occasions. Thanksgiving is just a few days away and Christmas will quickly follow. In my family we add a couple of birthdays in between as well. So much to do in preparation and anticipation, then the day comes and goes and what do we have left? Memories, both good and bad. Scrapbook worthy moments, and unfortunately often moments we wish we could do-over.

Occasions are often seen as times to look back. We remember holidays of the past, what has changed and traditions we still treasure. We remember special times spent with ones we love. These are precious memories to be held in our hearts.

rearview sunset
I’m afraid too often – especially on our birthdays (although other occasions as well) we may look back with regret for things we have done, or perhaps opportunities we feel we have missed. It’s easy to look in the rear view mirror of our lives and play the would’ve, should’ve game. And while we can learn from our past, we should never dwell there.

Truly nothing can be gained by dwelling in the past. If we settle in times gone by for too long our focus begins to change. We either long for those good times that are now just memories, or we lose momentum we’ve made in our lives moving forward from times we wish we could go back and change. In Philippians 3:12-14 the apostle Paul gives us a great example to follow.

Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.

Throughout the books Paul has written we never see him settle for less than God has for him. While he certainly may have had regrets of how he treated God’s people before he was saved by the grace of Christ’s salvation, once he accepted the forgiveness offered he only looked ahead. We read of Paul stating that he was content in his life, but we never see him stagnant. He continually looked ahead towards the ultimate prize of Heaven…and did all he could to take others along with him.

As the occasions of the next few weeks and months come our way, treasure them. Remember the good of occasions gone by and allow God to take away any regret for those that you wish had been different. Focus on making new memories for yourself and those around you.

Remember we have the opportunity to make every day and every encounter an occasion in itself. When we focus on staying in touch with the Holy Spirit and allow Him to work through us we can touch lives and change each moment into an occasion. It may not be one for the history books but may  leave an impression that makes a difference to someone else.

There is a wonderful movie called Mr. Magorium’s Wonder Emporium (created from a book by Suzanne Weyn) I leave you with my favorite quote and hope you’ll carry it with you:

Life Occasion

Blessings and peace to you on this occasion called today.