Regretting Past Decisions

Have you ever thought how much worse your life would be if a decision you made earlier in life was different?  You would probably have to think on it for a while.  But, if I asked you to remember a decision you made earlier in life that, if made differently, would have dramatically improved the life you live today, you and most people would be able to rattle off a few.

Let me put it this way, have you ever heard people say things like:

     “Life would be so much better if I would have done this.”
     “If I would have finished college, I would have….
     “If I would have gotten a four year instead of a two year degree.”
     “We would be so much better off if I would have gone back for my master’s degree.”
     “I wonder what life would be like if we didn’t have kids.”
     “If I would have done this in my marriage years ago, we wouldn’t have these problems today.”
     “If I would have done this, I would have a better job and get paid more.”

Think about all those people who you know have said similar things. How many of them have families and love their wives and kids?  Did they ever stop to consider the implications of what appear to be seemingly innocent statements?  I don’t think so.  Life happens whether we like it or not.  Like one of those statements attributed to Confucius, Patrick O’Leary, or Buckaroo Bonzai, “No matter where you go, there you are.”

By asking those questions, you can only come to one conclusion, regret.  When you questions a decision you made earlier in life, it leads to one thing, regret.  Think about it, focusing on the “what ifs” of the past is regret.  Chances are, if you finished your degree, you wouldn’t have been in that exact place and time where you met your future husband or wife. 

Instead of thinking something like, “If I didn’t go to that dance in high school, I would have never met my husband or wife,” we, as humans, tend to focus on statements like these:

     If you didn’t have that one last drink, you would have been there to help him. 
     If you would have taken their keys, they would not be in jail.
     If you would have studied more, you would have a better job.
     If you would have turned left at the light, you would have missed all the traffic.
     If your parents had more money, you could have gone to college.
     If you hadn’t dropped out of college to raise your son or daughter, you could have been successful.

Did you ever stop to think that if you didn’t drop out of college to have and raise your son or daughter and finished your degree, that very kid you cherish, love, and would die for, may not be here today? You may not be married. You may have divorced from the pressures of trying to finish college and raise a family.  You could have had an abortion.  The father could have been a highly paid doctor, lawyer, or engineer if he could have finished graduate school instead of only finishing his undergraduate degree….but you could have just as easily ended up divorced and he could have been one of those “dead beat dads” as well.

You just can’t focus on a specific question regarding a past event, time or action.  It is not that simple.  Very few decisions in life can be broken down that simplistically.  There are many thoughts, actions and questions that went into those very decisions of the past.  In the example above, the questions weren’t as easy as, “should I finish my degree or not.” It was probably a series of questions which had to be answered to get there.  Questions like:

     “Do I want my child to be brought up by someone else?”
     “Do I want to be a stay-at-home-mom?”
     “What’s in the best interest of this child?”
     “Can we both go to college full time and raise a child?”

In Philippians 4:5-8, God tells us not to worry about the “what ifs” in life and pass those cares and anxieties onto him. Focus on what you know.  Focus on what is true. Focus on what is pure.  He willingly accepts all your concerns and will carry the burden for you.

Life’s past decisions can not be broken down to just one questions.  Life is not that simple.  That one decision you made, was made after a series of other decisions in your life.  Life is not simple and is not about just one decision.  

In Numbers 6:24-26, God tells us to pass on our worries to him; our concerns, and our cares.  Take him up on his offer

There is only once decision I can think of that is really “that simple” and can be made easily and without regret. That decision is to believe in the Lord, Jesus Christ and that he was born, died, and resurrected to save us.

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One Response to Regretting Past Decisions

  1. Dan says:

    Ron,
    SUPER POST….Congratulations and welcome to the world of putting the words that God has put on your heart “out there” for others to see. I really like how you tied the decisions that we tend to mull over and stress over into Philippians 4:6-8. I think that is a must memorize for all…because God wants us to have life and have it abundantly. This side of eternity is far too short to stress about life…when we can’t control whether our heart will continue beat one more time.

    John 10:10 – The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.

    Thanks Ron! Dan

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