April 3, 2012


I feel myself cringe inside when I hear other people say that they have no regrets in life. My face gets hot and I can literally feel shame wash over me.  Suddenly, every regret I hold inside of myself comes to the surface and I'm faced with years of bad decisions and shoulda-coulda-woulda's that I can never go back and change.

Is that honest? Is it possible for people to really have ZERO regrets?  To have no scene, no small instance where they might change a response or action?

And if it is possible, what is wrong with me that I have so many? Is it that I am just not wise and mature enough to appreciate everything that I still consider a regret?

All things and the lack of things - all of that shapes us, who we become and who we can eventually grow in to. I know this, really.  But still.

Perhaps I just haven't lived long enough to reach that point of wisdom and maturity where I can accept that as being okay.  I am still trying to make peace with my younger self.  I am still trying to find kindness for pieces of my story that I still look at with contempt.  For what happened to me, for the things I did, for the places I went and all of the lies I believed and lived out for so long.

I wouldn't have ripped up the Valentine's that Robert gave to me in the fifth grade.  I still remember putting them in his ten-year old hands in quite a dramatic fashion after I saw him talking to another girl who I thought was prettier than me.  I wouldn't have been such a brat.  And I would have held on to them for always.

I would have (well, maybe) let my mother pick out all of my clothes in middle school because omigosh the things I wore because I thought they were cool.  Tube socks "scrunched" up to mid-calf, giant lime green parrot earrings, OVERALLS...oh heavens.

I wouldn't have gone to prom.  It was stupid.

I would have stayed in the competition for All-State Choir and auditioned for the lead in Phantom of the Opera my senior year of high school rather than letting depression consume me and keep me from the things I loved doing the most.

The one weekend I went to my friend's house for the weekend in college - I wouldn't have gone.  I would have stayed because I would have been with Aaron - gone to his concert, woken up next to him, kissed him a few more hundred times.  And I would have at least one weekend more full of memories with him and of us before he was killed.

I wouldn't have told my mom that I hated her - that she was a bad mom.  I would have hugged her really, really hard and told her I loved her that Christmas Eve if I knew that it was going to be the last day I ever saw her alive.

I would have turned my car around on a February night in 2005. I wouldn't have gone inside.  I wouldn't have let him kiss me.  I wouldn't have believed that he and that this was better than nothing.

I would have gone with Sarah to watch her try on wedding dresses, even if it hurt like hell.

I would have been a cheerleader.  I would have written more and sung more.  I wouldn't have sold myself so short.  I wouldn't have quit playing guitar or piano.  I would have believed in myself.  I would have given myself some grace.  I wouldn't have hid for so long.

There are more.  There are so many more.

The only silver-lining seems to be how these places of regret make me want to be more.  More full of joy, more kind, more honest and more REAL.  They draw me to Jesus and and beckon my heart to want to be closer with God.  They highlight my core longings and give me courage to pursue my passions and dreams and not be so full of fear all the time.  They've taught me to be thoughtful, mindful and careful when making decisions.  They make me want to love others well.  They remind me that one of the things I desire most, is to really and truly live my life.

Even after I have sorrowed and grieved and given space to feel the why's behind all of these places of regret, the regret still remains. Maybe just like good memories, regret is supposed to stay with me for always.

Because in some odd, beautiful way, regret inspires me.

What about you?  Do you have any regrets? 

1 comment:

  1. Jenn,
    There is so much to be held and cared for in this post for you. You are not alone in having regrets. I have found that sitting in "regret" for too long is where Evil inevitably beckons me to believe that I am my shame. And you Jennifer, are not those moments of shame. You are something much more brilliant and lovely. You are a woman fighting to find God in a world that is often dark and leaves many of us feeling alone. You are shining a light for all of us out here! You are not alone in feeling like this; my hope is that you will find space to sit with God in these moments.
    love you