Often, though, our mistakes don’t have eternal consequences; rather, they leave us with bad memories of our poor behavior and inability to always control our tongues and actions. Usually, the actions I regret most are from times when I reacted strongly in a negative way to a situation. Later, I wish I had been calm and more in control when faced with adverse situations. Other times I simply walked away when I should have stood up for what was right.
I left a church once when I was very poorly treated by the leadership. I was horribly betrayed and my trust shattered. Although I was already at an incredibly low point in my life - I wish I had handled that situation differently. I broke my connections with the church and just left. By doing that I think I gave up on God for a bit and didn’t give Him a chance to right the wrongs and bring healing and forgiveness among the people involved. I wish I had stayed longer and stood up to the deception and put more effort into working it out. I did make a weak attempt at reconciliation, but who knows what God could have done had I stood strong on my principles and allowed Him to work out the details? Maybe things wouldn’t have worked out differently, but I wish I had reacted differently.
My sister died suddenly several years ago. The weekend before Thanksgiving I was going to give her a call, but then decided to wait and call her on Thanksgiving Day. But she died the day before Thanksgiving, so I was too late and I have always regretted not making that phone call. For a while I let it make me very angry and disappointed with myself. I was plagued with thinking, “If only I had called maybe things would be different.” I refused to let myself believe they wouldn’t have turned out any differently and in some sense I felt like her death was my fault. I see how illogical that is now - but I did learn an important practice from the situation. Now, if I feel the urge to call someone I drop what I am doing and I call them. Nothing I have going on is more important than the people in my life.
There will always be times in my life when I disappoint myself and God with my actions or my tongue. I am so thankful He forgives me and is teaching me to forgive myself and to learn from my mistakes. So many things I would do differently. So many things I DO differently now. Life is always about growing and changing, no matter how old I get.