Trust condoms have a TV ad campaign with a tag line “Life, bila regrets”. In it they show a number of situations where young people are so angry with themselves for having made wrong choices, presumably sex without a condom. Each of them is shouting “No, no, no…” as they consider events in their recent past. I do not want to hate on them or anything but there seems to be an underlying lie in this message. That sex is okay so long as you use a condom. Sex with anyone? They don’t quite say it but one gets that ka-impression. I believe there are times when there is a lot of regret even when condoms are involved. There is no condom for the conscience.
This week a friend of mine and I were discussing a quote from a mutual friend who said shame and pride are sisters. Both are a result of an unhealthy view of oneself. That brief discussion added a new dimension to this week’s post. I had planned to talk about regret. Regret is a morning after pill. So as we were discussing this, I thought “Hmmm… does regret have a sister too?”. I found her. Regret’s sister is Worry.
Regret and worry seem to be exactly the same and only differ in perspective. Regret looks at the past, worry looks at the future.
1. They are both concerns about circumstances
Regret is concern about past circumstances, worry is concern about future circumstances. We all have spent time looking back at past choices and wondered whether if we were given another chance, we would make the same choices again. Of course if your answer is yes to such a question, then that is not a regret. Regret sets in when we are sure that if we were to turn back the hands of time, there are things we would do differently or not at all. Sometimes we look at the past and in the present we worry that the past will repeat itself in the future.
2. They are both exaggerated
One of the blogs on my blogroll (I will let you figure out which one!) has the tag line “Relax. It’s Only Life”. I like that. Sometimes we take life too seriously. Things are often not as bad as they look. Someone once said failure is only failure when we fail to learn from it. So what if we lost a lot of money? If we had that money to lose in the first place then we can make it again. So what if you lost an opportunity? Another one is coming. So what if you’re pregnant with a child you did not want? That child you are carrying could be the most wonderful person you or many others will ever meet. So what if a relationship has gone to the dogs? Check yourself and see if there are things about you that you need to change and grow in to ensure future relationships are not messed up by the same things. So what if you can’t find a job? Thank God you can still keep looking. Today, someone somewhere is wishing they had the chance you have, the health you have, the family you have, the looks you have, the freedom you have etc. Instead of regretting, we should seek out lessons we have learn from mistakes of our past to ensure that we do make them again. The same thing applies to worrying about the future. The things you are worried about will probably never happen and even if they do, it will probably not be as bad as you think. As you worry if you will make it to the end of the month, someone somewhere is worrying if they will make to lunch time.
3. They are both futile, pointless and ineffective
Jesus could not have put it better in Matthew 6:27 when he asked “Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?” or add an inch to his height? There is absolutely no point. You cannot change the past. Focusing on your failures of the past does not make them disappear. In fact it seems to be the way to guarantee that they will happen again in the future. God’s mercies are new every morning (Lamentations 3:23) I love the words of the old hymn
Yesterday’s gone sweet Jesus
And tomorrow may never be mine
Help me today, show me the way one day at a time
4. They both paralyze
If there is anything worry or regret do best, it is to paralyze us and mess up the present. Regrets about the past and worries about the future both rob us the focus and presence of mind we need to be effective in the present. A long time ago I was walking in Ngara, (no, this is not another version of Walking in Memphis) and I saw a guy driving a sleek Mercedes Benz. Traffic slowed him down. Two street kids tapped the front wheel caps and stole them. He got out of his car and tried to catch them. As he did, two other street kids helped themselves to the rear ones. Sometimes life does that to us as well. Regret and worry can work as a team and completely mess up our lives.
5. They can both be treated by the same drug
Trust (no, not the condoms) seems to be able to deal with regret and her sister. Trusting God about the past and the future can eradicate regret and worry. When we trust that he has a plan for our lives that is unfolding daily, we look at how far he has brought us with joy and look to the future with confidence.
trust [truhst] noun
1. reliance on the integrity, strength, ability, surety, etc., of a person or thing; confidence.
2. confident expectation of something; hope.
3. confidence in the certainty of future payment for property or goods received; credit: to sell merchandise on trust.
4. a person on whom or thing on which one relies: God is my trust.
5. the condition of one to whom something has been entrusted.
Need I say more?