Sunday, February 10, 2013

Regret Isn’t the End of the Story

“Elmer ran off and went on a ship all by himself?” asked my daughter.

“Yes,” I replied.  “What would you have done?”

“I don’t think he should have left without telling his parents.  I would have told you and Daddy to come with me.  Then Daddy could bring his gun and we would have been safe from the wild animals…and we could still save the baby dragon.”

“I see.  Then Elmer’s parents wouldn’t have worried about him.  So you think that’s what he should have done?”  I queried.

“Yes,” replied my daughter thoughtfully, “but then there wouldn’t have been much of a story.”

We’ve all read stories or watched movies where a character makes a choice that causes us to wince.  We know or can guess what’s ahead—embarrassment, struggles, penalties, and failure.  Whatever the case, the decision usually can’t be undone and the character has to live with the consequences.

The hardest part is living with the regret.  We get trapped by it because we feel like it can never be completely fixed.

Jon and I talk a lot about our time in Virginia.  Should we have ever left the work here in PNG to take a job back in the States for those couple of years.  It certainly didn’t turn out how we had hoped.  Did we make a mistake—not pray enough about it?  Did we ignore signs from God?

Whether or not we made the right choice, we still have regrets—the stress the situation put on our family.  Buying a house and turning around and putting it up for sale 5 months later.  Resigning from Wycliffe and reapplying 3 months later.  How we must appear changeable, unreliable or even untrustworthy to those around us.  Since we can’t erase our history, we could hole up in our regret.

Fortunately, we have a God who’s bigger than our regret.  If we look back on our lives, we can look at the high and lows and BEGIN to see the beautiful story God is weaving in our lives.  Yes, we wonder if we really should have left PNG.  We may never know.  What we do know is that we’ll never regret the friends we made in Virginia.  We have memories from our time there that make our lives so much richer and colorful.

I believe God can make a beautiful story out of any regrettable choice we have made, IF we let him.  Forgiveness is the beginning of the next chapter.  So let’s get on with our stories.


PS—Elmer Elevator is the adventurous little boy with no regrets from the “My Father’s Dragon” series by Ruth Stiles Gannett and illustrated by Ruth Chrisman Gannett.


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