Most of us harbor regrets, large or small, important or insignificant. Regrets include both things we wish we had done and things we wish we had not. These “things” come in different forms: thoughts, words, and deeds. In all cases, these regrets are mistakes we wish we could undo.
The mistakes I regret most are things I did not do, like passing up the chance to meet Rod Carew when I was 12 years old. I regret times I settled for mediocrity by not giving 100%. I regret not staying in touch with friends and family. Sometimes I regret not speaking out. Other times I regret not keeping quiet.
“Speak when you are angry and you will make the best speech you’ll ever regret.” — Laurence J. Peter
“Regret for the things we did can be tempered by time; it is regret for the things we did not do that is inconsolable.” — Sidney J. Harris
Mom used to explain to us kids that we had a little voice inside called a conscience that helped us understand the difference between right and wrong. Dad helped us “regret” those times when we ignored the voice (if you know what I mean.) Eventually I grew up and found creative new ways to cause regret.
“When one door closes another door opens; but we often look so long and so regretfully upon the closed door, that we do not see the ones which open for us.” — Alexander Graham Bell
“Life is an adventure in forgiveness.” — Norman Cousins
“Regret for wasted time is more wasted time.” — Mason Cooley
“Guard well within yourself that treasure, kindness. Know how to give without hesitation, how to lose without regret, how to acquire without meanness.” — George Sand (1804 – 1876)
Now the good news. There is a regret remedy called forgiveness. One aspect of forgiveness is that which you grant yourself for not living up to your standards, for making a mistake, for failing and for letting yourself down.
“If you haven’t forgiven yourself something, how can you forgive others?” — Dolores Huerta
“Forgiveness is almost a selfish act because of its immense benefits to the one who forgives.” — Lawana Blackwell, The Dowry of Miss Lydia Clark
“Holding on to anger, resentment and hurt only gives you tense muscles, a headache and a sore jaw from clenching your teeth. Forgiveness gives you back the laughter and the lightness in your life.” — Joan Lunden
One of the most familiar quotes on forgiveness is attributed to Alexander Pope (1688 – 1744):
“To err is human, to forgive divine.”
Then came this sequel from Franklin P. Adams (1881 – 1960):
“To err is human; to forgive, infrequent.”
Finally, in the 1980’s the following was in vogue:
“To err is human; to really foul things up requires a computer.”
Seeking forgiveness for harm caused to others is quite simple in theory — in practice it can be very difficult. The Bible offers the ultimate forgiveness model.
“Forgive us our sins, for we also forgive those who sin against us.” — Luke 11:4
“Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.” — Colossians 3:13
“Then Peter came to Him and said, ‘Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Up to seven times?’ Jesus said to him, ’I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven.’
“Therefore the kingdom of heaven is like a certain king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants. And when he had begun to settle accounts, one was brought to him who owed him ten thousand talents. But as he was not able to pay, his master commanded that he be sold, with his wife and children and all that he had, and that payment be made. The servant therefore fell down before him, saying, ‘Master, have patience with me, and I will pay you all.’ Then the master of that servant was moved with compassion, released him, and forgave him the debt.
“But that servant went out and found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii; and he laid hands on him and took him by the throat, saying, ‘Pay me what you owe!’ So his fellow servant fell down at his feet and begged him, saying, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you all.’ And he would not, but went and threw him into prison till he should pay the debt. So when his fellow servants saw what had been done, they were very grieved, and came and told their master all that had been done.
“Then his master, after he had called him, said to him, ‘You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you begged me. Should you not also have had compassion on your fellow servant, just as I had pity on you?’ And his master was angry, and delivered him to the torturers until he should pay all that was due to him.
“So My heavenly Father also will do to you if each of you, from his heart, does not forgive his brother his trespasses.”
— Matthew 18:21-35
© Copyright June 2008, Clancy Cross. All rights reserved.
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