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Posts Tagged ‘Regrets’

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There have been days, months, even years when I might have wished for a redo of some part of life, my decisions, words or actions. These times have left me feeling the weight of  regret, disappointment and feelings of failure.

As time passes, though, I am beginning to see that the mistakes, failures and disappointments have actually become something other than regrets.

Life, real life, is about moving from sweet to sour, hot to cold, smooth to prickly. Every stage teaching, stretching and introducing us to parts of ourselves we would never know otherwise.

The other thing I have come to know about my failures and regrets is that they are yesterday’s news. None of us can undo what has been done … to us or by us. But we can recognize that what is done, is done. It is in the past, and all we can do, from a forward-moving position, is to choose how to respond.

Those regretful choices, actions and behaviours in our lives can be opportunities to awaken each day with the God-given gift of a fresh start. But we do need to leave the past in the past, facing forward to the future to the now.

“I focus on this one thing:
Forgetting the past
and looking forward to what lies ahead.”
Philippians 3:13

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We are just a day, just hours really, away from the end of 2014. Whatever our experience of 2014, these final moments of this year seem to bring us to a state of reflection.

I cannot speak for everyone, but I certainly do not entertain this year end reflection with enough seriousness. Perhaps that oft quoted statement “those of us who ignore history, are doomed to repeat it,” ought to be inscribed in our inner eyelids. History, either that of our world, or that of our individual lives, causes us to naturally run away, or re-live it, but, if we reflect on our days, perhaps there might be a third response …

learn from it.

As we sit on the cusp of the change from the past to a new year, the time is right to take a few minutes and reflect.

People

We do not live our lives independent of others, but with our lives intertwined with others around us, whether connected by birth, marriage, jobs, or buying our groceries. As we reflect on those relationships, whether intimate, or more superficial, are there areas which need more attention? Are there too many memories of harsh words spoken? Are there things that have not been spoken, because of fear? Do we come to the end of this year, having said all that needed to be said, having listened to what needed to be heard, and having kept quiet when to be gracious was of more value than to be right? We have all failed the people around us, and they have failed us.

Perhaps if we could live the Golden Rule, to treat others as we would desire they treat us, this coming new year …

Environment

We live, not only with people, but also with a world that we are Biblically (Genesis 1:26-30) responsible to care for. Now don’t get me wrong, I do not believe that there is anything that we mere mortals can do to increase and alter the number of days that the Earth will exist, but I do believe that if God, himself, has given the care of the Earth and everything on it, then we need to do all that we can to care for the soil, the water, the air, and all that grows because of these.

Perhaps if we could treat the things in our lives as the gifts, from God, that they are …

Activities

Our time gets divided up by so many worthwhile, and worthless activities … and there is time and place for both. For some a game of hockey, and for others a game of solitaire are ways of spending a quiet evening. For some volunteering on a church committee, and for others checking in on an elderly neighbor are ways of giving to others. For some giving tax deductible gifts of money, and for others random acts of kindness are ways of sharing what we have. Whatever activities we fill our days with, it would be good to remember the words of Socrates, “beware of the barrenness of a busy life.”

Perhaps if we could treat the time we have as the gifts, from God, that it is …

Creator

Who is the Creator to you, to me? It has been said that to know where your heart is, look to where you spend your money, or your time, or where your thoughts rest. So many of us say that God is number one in our life, but would our wallets, our time spent and our thoughts show that to be true?

Perhaps if we could treat our relationship with our Redeemer, as He has treated us …

Perhaps, as we reflect on the year that is almost completed, as we investigate our actions and attitudes, we could all learn to treat all that has been given to us with an attitude of thanks, of respect and of honor. Perhaps then we would have learned from our mistakes, rather than running from or repeating them.

 

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One of our kids desires to spend Christmas with extended family … on the opposite coast of the country. Although my momma heart wants all of my kids with me for Christmas, I also desire greatly for our kids to not miss out on opportunities to spend time living their own lives. I felt I had easily made peace with this desire, until the other day …

“I just don’t want to be here at Christmas”

Wanting to be away is one thing, but to not want to be here … ouch!

That very same day, another child returned from a weekend retreat with our church youth group. I was so excited to hear about his time away, until I heard his reply to my question about his time away …

“It was great! I just love being at camp so much better than being here

I felt the knuckle punch, hard, to my abs, my throat.

Ah, but it didn’t end there!

My daughter’s and I had a plan to go to the church that my eldest attends, but then she had to work later than planned. I suggested that, rather than leave her out, we could go to another church together, later in the day. Together was, in my mind, the joy. Well, child number three, when we got back home from church, was out of the vehicle and into her room, with her door shut, faster than I could lower my feet from the vehicle.

Apparently, it was not her church of choice, and not joy-filled.

I went to bed that night feeling rather low, unappreciated, unloved.

It was not that they were desiring bad things, but that they were desiring them … more.

more than me.

As I worked through the scar tissue, I realized what my problem was how I heard their words … I heard them through momma ears, where there are momma-sized regrets.

I heard their words of preference of another place, through my memories of saying no to things that they have wanted me to do with them, over the years. The times they wanted just one more story, the times they wanted to go to the park, or play a board or video game, or make cookies, or have a tea party, or go for coffee.

What I heard was my own condemnation, my own guilt, my own regrets.

Moms, we need to stop living the guilt-laden life. We need to stop looking back, with regret and sadness over our choices, mistakes and weaknesses. We need to live

today.

We need to look forward, not back.

Our children are moving forward, grabbing for life’s new adventures, and we need to cheer them on, and be thankful that they want to share the stories of their life with us.

In the days since my momma version of the horrible, terrible, no good, really bad day, I have been embraced by arms and words of love from my three. With each embrace I was reminded that their desire for other is not their method of punishing me. As a matter of fact, they have far more memories of things we did together than of times I said not today, just wait, or no.

They are not living their increasingly independent-of-me lives, as a punishment for my frailties. As a matter of fact, they are growing increasingly independent because they have had space to grow, to make their own mistakes, to experience their own successes, and then to share their stories with me … even if my ears are not always ready to hear them.

Moms, lets:

look forward

hear words as they are spoken (not as we imagine them)

receive their stories as a loving, healing balm to heal our momma guilt

love them,

imperfectly, but sincerely, love them.

 

 

 

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I do not remember where I saw these words, but when I first read, “the past is always present” I loved them. A play on words that contradicts itself, and yet is so true as we live our lives.

I love the past concerning my childhood (although, there was that time I got stung by like a gazillion bees just because I listened to the advice of Mr. Dressup … HE was wrong about standing still … but, I digress).

I love the past of my teenage memories (most of them … there was that time I mistakenly tucked my skirt into my undies, and then walked on a busy road to my grandmother’s place, with my back end in the forefront … but, I digress).

I love the past of my heritage (I grew up on the east coast of Canada, in a family who have been there for, literally, hundreds of years).

I love the past of my marriage (I have the most fantastic memories of vacations, and planning for vacations … that is something we are good at together).

I love the past of my children being born, and growing up (each stage is so full of novelty and excitement).

What I do realize, though, is that although the past is … past, it is still here, in the present. It is part of who we are today, how we think, and how we react. It is the reason we anticipate some events, as well as the reason we feel anxious about other events. When I see or hear a bee, I immediately respond (at least inwardly) due to my being stung as a child … that memory of the past is always there.

The past can keep us from making the same mistakes too. There is not a time that I am wearing a skirt or dress that I do not, consciously, check to ensure that the back end of … me, is covered up.

Pride in my country, and the part of it where I come from are a result of the place I grew up and the cultural expectations I experienced there.

Every time I see a tent on a green, grassy hill, I remember a memorable vacation with hubby.

Every time I see a woman, pregnant for the first time, I glance at her eyes, and know that, once that baby is born, no future decision will ever be the same, because she will never again be the same.

The past is always within us, even today. Our choices today will have impact on how we live tomorrow … and each tomorrow after that.

The greatest consequence of the past is that we remember. We remember experiences, we remember joys, we remember hurts, we remember what we have conquered, and what has conquered us. The past IS always with us, so we need to live today acknowledging the long term consequences of our present.

“Choose well. Your choice is brief, and yet endless.”
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

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*Though written three years ago, Momma Guilt continues for this Momma … I bet it does for us all … and continues to the end of our Earthly lives.

Once upon a time, there was a girl who was growing up. And this little girl had dreams, aspirations, hopes and goals for her future. She dreamed of one day getting married, having babies, and doing it all just like she has seen on TV.

Unfortunately, she was born in 1969, and the TV moms who she  had modeled for her … were perfect!

There was June Cleaver, who, other than the obscure name her son Beaver had … was perfect.

Then there was Marion Cunnigham, who was ALWAYS making homemade goodies, not only for HER kids, but for all their friends!

Then there was Clair Huxtable, she made the concept of working mom look so easy! And she even had her, always loving, obstetrician hubby, who did most of the cleaning and cooking!

Ah, and then Caroline Ingalls … that woman could fix a fence, mend a sock, and chase Laura all over the prairies, and still get an enormous homemade dinner on the table, with enough to feed the weary traveler!

And, finally, Jane Jetson … even in space-time animation June Cleaver lives … and in size 8 (I have worn size 8, by the way … it just had a ‘1’ in front of the ‘8’).

All of these women had the same things in common …

– they were all slim … I am green with envy

– they were all pretty … so much to aim for

– they all were perfectly accessorized … this is where my love of my (faux) pearls originated

– they always made their hubbys happy … sigh

– their kids always loved and appreciated them … momma guilt!

The other day, I found myself deep in the mires of MOMMA GUILT … ever been there, ladies?

It had been a busy week, with another busy week to come (and so on, and so on, and so on …). So, Saturday was full with a To Do list that had no hope of getting done.

While hubby was finishing up his sermon (because he had spent the week dealing with ‘immediate’ stuff), and hoping to get some yard work done, I was to take our son to a birthday party, and get a few errands completed.

I got very few of those errands done, as I decided to throw in ‘dress shopping’ … grrr! I had hoped that the few ounces I’ve lost would make that a more enjoyable process … NOT! I think what I would need to lose is the whole, freaking, left side of my body! But, I digress!

Then it was time to pick my son up from the party … and I was scrambling … because I was late … again!

When I got there I was pounced upon by son … ‘mom can so-and-so and I get together today?’ Now, I admit, I hate lack of planning, on a good day, but, when my To Do list is long, my brain cells cannot even begin to think about adding more to it! So, I said … ‘NO.’

And this is where momma guilt began … Not really, of course, because that is with me ALL the time! You see, I have this dream in my mind of getting the ‘Mom of the Year’ award … and I have had that annual award … on January 1, until 12:01am, when I blow it. But, I digress … again.

Lets just say the ride home was very quiet … and I felt it! When I did try to converse and soothe, I was met with ‘but Mom …’ And, my momma guilt let me feel the full weight of his sorrow. Not because his present sorrow was so valid, but because my momma guilt is so close to the surface for me when it comes to my son.

– I was home fully with my daughters … I started back to work before my son entered kindergarten.

– I taught my daughters how to cook, to sew, to read … my son, not so much.

– He is eleven, and I still haven’t taught him how to ride a bike 😦

– I have rarely gone on school field trips with him … his sisters … many!

– I rarely play any ball sports with him.

Wow! Can I wallow, or what? Suffice it to say, that on this particular day, EVERY violation, every failure, every fault I have ever made, in the life of my son, I remembered and felt. Also, suffice it to say, I threw my own pity party, lasting most of the entire day! And, my To Do list … not so much got done.

Once I had shed my guilt-ridden tears, went out on my own (that is the key … on my own) to get groceries, had a good dinner (thanks to the grocery store providing fresh bread and roast chicken), talked to my mom on the phone (I don’t need to tell her whats happening … just hearing her voice makes me feel better), and played a very neck-and-neck game of chess with my son … the day was seeming brighter.

It’s amazing how taking the time to see how his video game system works, and playing a game with him seems to help us to reconnect once again.

I know I will never get that elusive ‘Mom of the Year’ award, but the good night hug (that just about asphyxiated me), along with an eye to eye, ‘Mom, I love you so much,’ from my boy made my momma guilt fade …

Take that June Cleaver, Marion Cunningham, Caroline Ingalls, Clair Huxtable and yes, even you Jane Jetson!

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It is said that experience is the best teacher …

When I saw the above image posted on Facebook I immediately started to write the note in my mind. It began as a list of what not to do. Perhaps, just as experience is the best teacher, regret is a powerful lesson.

The list in my head was growing my the moment when I realized that I missed the final part of the challenge of what I would say to my younger self …

… in only two words

Okay, now that changed things!

Then I really had to think … what two words would I wish I could communicate to my younger self?

It made me really regret my ‘don’t do’ list, because, all of a sudden, having only two words to communicate … well would I want them to be dont’s?

So then my mind was racing, trying to come up with two positive words … not just positive, now, but encouraging. So now my aim was to find two words … just TWO words, that would be words of encouraging to my younger self.

When I was younger I was confident of a handful of goals for my life, and I was committed to not make any choices that could adversely affect my goals. So I was not a rule-breaker. But, when I look back, I realize that I made my rules to be laws, and they not only kept me on the straight and narrow … they also kept me from experiencing variety in this life.

So, after hours of contemplating and considering what two words I would wish to write to myself, my conclusion would be :

live wonder-filled

How about you? What two words would you wish to write in a note to your younger self?

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The best of this week was Regrets I Have A Few… and don’t we all.

But the thing about regrets is that we do not need to keep living the status quo. If you have regrets, as I have regrets, change how you are living … today. Each morning that we inhale that first, full lunged intake of oxygen we have a fresh start … lets try to start it freshly.

Blessings to you this day,

Carole

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You know you are getting old when you start wishing you could do parts of life differently.

I must be getting old …

Now I am not a person who regrets much of what I have done, or chosen, as I generally see all of the life choices I make as experiences that help me grow, develop and mature. Recently, though, I have been feeling two things, and they go together. One is that time is moving too quickly, and the other is that I wish I could ‘re-do’ some of my decisions in life so far.

As I am a woman of thirty-nine (with four years experience), I am aware that I am reaching the midpoint of my earthly existence. In other words, I need to make every year, every moment count. I cannot waste these years of good health on things that do not matter. I cannot waste a single day that I have the opportunity to do good, to love fully and to give all that I do all that is within me.

As I look at my three kids, I realize the clock of direct, daily parenting is ticking near the final hours. Our daughters are (almost) 21 and 16, and our son (almost) 14. In less than four years our family will all have graduated from high school (except for me, but I may just be a ‘lifer’). Our nest could potentially be empty a short four years from this month.

As I ponder these next years with our kids, I find myself with regrets …

I wish we had pushed the learning and development of the skills needed for the school sports available at their high school (or chosen a high school with sports that our family naturally enjoys), so that they could experience the joys of participating with their classmates. Sure they have all been part of community sports, but doing so with classmates creates a unique bond.

I wish we had started to encourage Christian summer camp experiences at younger ages. These are special places, and places of great spiritual growth and development.

If I could do it all over again, I would choose a smaller home (heck, does anyone really need anything bigger than a townhouse?) and take bigger, more experiential trips together as a family. To create memories … just us five … in beautiful and historical places around the world, sounds so much more preferable than bigger bedrooms.

As I approach the twenty-fourth anniversary of saying “I do” to hubby, I have a regret here too. I wish I had chosen to cherish him more. I wish I had not allowed myself to go to bed angry, and turn my stubborn back to him, on far too many occasions. I wish I had looked at him more as a gift that I need than a choice that I made. Simply, I wish I had loved him as I would also desire to be loved, rather than loving him as I thought he deserved … (aka the Golden Rule from Luke 6:31).

When I think of the lyrics to the song, “My Way” I remember these words …

“Regrets, I’ve had a few …

… For what is a man, what has he got?
If not himself, then he has naught
To say the things he truly feels and not the words of one who kneels
The record shows I took the blows and did it my way!”

At this point in my life, I’d rather kneel, and do it God’s way.

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I am archaic, but I am thankful that I am an archaic, aging woman, and not an archaic, aging man.

Recently I have encountered a number of men, who are of the age of fifty’ish, who are … negative, opinionated, stubborn and … grumpy! There have been enough of them that I have started to view every man who appears to be about that age, with the belief that he needs to be avoided at all costs.

In each of the situations of grumpy men, there would appear to be no outward reason for their poor attitudes.

They all have jobs, and solid, secure jobs at that. They would all appear to have healthy, intact, families. They would all appear to have, what most of us would deem, a good life.

I am not sure that they are recognizing their ‘good life’ as good.

Every time that I have encountered one of these ‘gentlemen’ I walk (quickly) away thinking, is there something horrible going on in their life that I know nothing of, or are they simply focusing so much on what they are missing out on that they cannot see what they have?

Now these guys who I am thinking of are not simply guys who are having an ‘off’ day. They are grumpy on a consistent, regular basis. If they were a Sesame Street character they would all be Oscar the Grouch.

John Barrymore said that “a man is not old until regrets take the place of dreams.” Maybe this is what has happened to these men, and the women of equal grumpiness. Maybe they are entering the second half of life burdened with the regrets of things they did, or did not do, in the first half.

Or maybe, T.S. Eliot’s belief is true, “I don’t believe one grows older.  I think that what happens early on in life is that at a certain age one stands still and stagnates.” If this is the reality for the grumpy, unhappy, negative, hopeless men and women in our lives, that is a most heartbreaking thing. To have the gift of life in our hands (our feet, our brain, our heart).

It makes me want to live differently. It makes me want to live with hope, continue to dream, and greet each day as the gift that it is, with all of the opportunities and possibilities that were there twenty years ago. The blessing of being ‘middle aged’ is that I can awaken each day with the same possibilities as when I was younger, but now I do so with the added benefit of experience and wisdom (well, experience at least 😉 ).

“They will bear fruit even when old and gray;
they will remain lush and fresh”
Psalm 92:14

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Normally I do not think of my errors as regrets, but as mistakes that have taught me, and have caused me to grow. Lately, though, a regret from the past has been … haunting me. I awake, and think of it. I lay my head down at night, and think of it.

The regret I refer to is one that, if I were to speak of it when face to face with another, my eyes would tear up, my throat would swell, and my sorrow be felt throughout my body. My regret is for an error I made, when I did not speak up for someone who was being taken advantage of, someone who was being harassed, someone who was being bullied. I … regret my lack of action.

This regret is not one from my distant past. It is not one from my childhood or teen years. It is not from when my kids were little. It is a full blown adult regret. I could have stood up for another, I should have stood up for another, and I didn’t.

I expect that there is purpose in my remembering it lately. Maybe, the lesson for me is that I need to ensure that I never repeat my inaction. I need to ensure that I do not keep silent when I see or hear others being bullied. I need to be on the lookout for times when I might be able to speak up, for those who are being treated poorly.

When I think of my learning this lesson, I think of Isaiah 43:18-19 (to the right). Although I could never forget the regret I actively feel for my past mistake, I believe that God is doing something new in my heart, and in my life through the practice of not remaining silent. And with each action I take, I feel new, I feel renewed … as though by turning away from my past lack of action, I am being refreshed like a dried up river being watered in a dry wasteland.

Doing what is right … it can be hard to make the first step, but, once you do it, you (and, for me, the person you are speaking up for) will be energized by your right action.

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