Thoughts, Ideas and Inspiration by Melissa Earley

The Gift of Regret

I recently had a conversation with someone who says that she doesn’t regret anything. Everything that she has done and everything that has happened to her have helped make her who she is now.  She is  grateful. I appreciated her acceptance of her decisions and envied her ability to not look back.

I look back a lot.

I do have regrets. I regret not taking a writing class in college. I regret not going to prom my senior year of high school (long story). I regret not keeping up with my exercise in recent months. I regret purchasing a yellow couch.

I wonder sometimes what my life would be like if I had made different choices. If I had majored in Spanish or stuck with the creative writing I did as a child? I don’t regret the life I have now, but I can imagine how my life could be different. I don’t regret the path I took so much as wish I could take more than one path at the same time.

Living with regret, without being bound by it, keeps me from being paralyzed in the face of decisions. I can survive making the wrong choice.

I have felt remorse – deep regret. For things I’ve done or left undone. For things I’ve said or left unsaid. I regret pain I caused others and chaos I created for myself.

Remorse opens the path to admission of wrongdoing – my spiritual tradition calls this confession – and that makes it possible for me to seek and receive forgiveness, one piece of the  gift of undeserved, unearned love – grace. Even when it’s not possible to fix what I’ve broken, divine forgiveness frees me to live unfettered by the past.

The experience of blowing it and starting again – resurrection — has shaped me in profound ways. It softens the edges of my judgment toward others. I am less brittle and better able to extend grace to others.

I do have regrets. I don’t regret the regret.

 

 

 

12 Comments

  1. Erin P. Gosser

    I like the last line. Good post!

  2. Phaedra Wilkinson

    I am so thankful to have your wisdom in my life! What a beautiful piece. PS…it’s not too late to take a writing class….maybe the universe needed you on a specific path when you were younger, but maybe there is now room in your life for all of your ambitions and dreams. <3

    • admin

      Phaedra,
      I actually have taken a few writing classes in the last couple of years. Which has made me wonder what would have happened if I had taken more writing courses in college. The best class I took was Writing Beyond the Walls at Kenyon College this past summer. That’s why I started the blog.
      Thanks for all your encouragement of my writing.
      Melissa

  3. Lizzy Renold

    This was exactly what I needed to hear this morning. Perfectly and beautifully said. Thank you, Melissa, for sharing your heart in your blog. Xoxoxo

    • admin

      Liz, glad it was so well timed.
      Melissa

      • Lizzy Renold

        I have re-read this post many times now. Just wanted you to know.

        • admin

          Thanks for telling me, Liz.

  4. Lisl Paul

    Thanks for this, Melissa. Regret is something I was hoping to talk with you about on our book group retreat. You’ve got my head spinning on this already…especially the parallel you make with resurrection! Blessings to you, friend, for opening up a new dimension on regret for me.

    • admin

      I’m happy to talk about it. It’s a good friend of mine but I don’t think it’ll mind.

  5. Lisl Paul

    Thanks for this, Melissa. Regret is something I was hoping to talk with you about on our book group retreat. You’ve got my head spinning on this already…especially the parallel you make with resurrection! Blessings to you, friend, for opening up a new dimension on regret for me.

  6. Fred

    You’re a thinker!…you made me think.

    (I didn’t go to prom, either.)

    • admin

      Glad to make you think.
      Melissa

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