Turning Back Time-Living with regret


This weekend, most of Western Europe will readjust clocks to go back in time one hour. We have done this for several years now to make the most of our daylight hours. When the clocks change, I often day dream about things I would change if I could go back in time, for real, and change some of the choices I have made or how I should have responded to something instead of how I responded at the time.

We have all made mistakes. We have all done things that we are not proud of, either on purpose or naively. Some of those mistakes have been made out of a deep pain that seeks to be soothed and some of those mistakes come out of a place of anger and hurt. Some of our responses are out of a righteous anger and others are out of a place of bitterness and hurt. Regardless, I think it is normal for us to want to go back in time and change something. And we can’t. So what do we do with that?

Several years ago, I was very hurt by a situation where I had been wronged. The situation cost me an additional year of time working towards what needed to be accomplished, without pay.  I remember sitting at my table, cup of coffee in hand and being so angry and upset that my time, my plan and my goals, had been so thwarted that I did not know if I would have money to buy food, yet alone spend the energy on what needed to be done. This was a tangible set back. I was so angry that the people involved in the situation had obviously not considered the practical implications of this decision, yet alone the personal ones, that I felt hopeless for the first time in my life. I felt there was no possible good that could come from the situation. I so desperately wanted to go back in time to the situation to change it, because I could not see how this situation could be rectified yet alone transformed into a good one.  How glad I am that I didn’t have a time turner to do just that.

I decided to harness my hurt and anger and turn it into work. I didn’t let the situation go (because I had definitely been wronged) but I knew the circumstances were not going to change unless I did. I sat in the sadness. I didn’t deny it. I sat in the anger. I let it come. And soon, I was able to decide that I would do the work that was needed to be done so I could get out of that situation. I could either leave the task and not use the years of university I had done, or, I could continue to complete the requirements and find a new way to use my education.

That evening at my table, I sat there and said, “God, I am trying not to feel hopeless right now and I cannot see any possible good that can come from this. But I am willing to see it. Please, help me see it. Because I can’t see anything but anger and hurt.” And nothing happened. So I asked again, to have courage to find the good. And nothing happened. I did this a lot. And nothing happened.

So what changed? 2 Corinthians 7:10 says “Godly sadness produces a changed heart and life that leads to salvation and leaves no regrets, but sorrow under the influence of the world that produces death.” What changed was how I decided to view the person who had wronged me. I also decided to change how I saw myself in that situation. Instead of telling myself how wronged I was, I had a hard conversation with myself. What did I do wrong? It is hard when you know you have been wronged, to ask yourself that question. I examined how I failed myself. I should have kept records. I should have been less trusting. I should have advocated for myself. I should have asked for help. But I didn’t. That was a hard answer to accept, but, the truth was, I failed myself just as much as the other person failed me. And then, I had a Godly sadness. I was now going back in time and not letting God work in my future, yet alone the present.

I kept praying to see the good but again, nothing happened. For a year and a half. But when it happened, literally, in one moment, my life changed for the better. I had no idea how God had conspired in that situation to completely change my life. When I look back now I am amazed how the TIMING to make the wonderful things in my life were vital.

Had I continued on the plan that I had, had I not spent that additional year doing what needed to be done, I wouldn’t have ended up living where I live, doing what I do, or, being given the life changing opportunities now afforded to me. And that includes meeting my spouse (which was a surprise for both of us, because neither of us were interested in a relationship until we met each other). But my heart changed and I did not have regrets, even before my life changed for the better.  If someone had told me that night at the kitchen table all the wonderful things that would happen in my life because of that horrible situation, I would have removed them from the flat for being a cruel joker.

It can seem difficult to see the potential for a good in a horrible situation, to even consider the possibility. It is even more difficult to be willing to see the good in a horrible situation. But going back in time to examine every minute detail can be more harmful that we wish to admit. Going back in time to beat ourselves up only keeps us a prisoner of our past. Is it good to examine ourselves? Absolutely, but only if we “{have a} changed heart and life that leads to salvation and leaves no regrets.” because of that.

So as the clocks change tonight, here is a prayer to go along with it.

Holy God, I am about change the time on my clocks, this weird and wonderful thing we humans do to try to manage our lives. As we fall back an hour, help me to not live in the past in a way that hinders me. Help me to occasionally live in a past that leads me to have a changed heart, to live a life that leads to salvation and leaves no regrets. Take all the difficult situations I have in my life and transform them. I am willing to see solutions and I am willing to work with you so my life will be the best it can be. Thank you, for being patient with me. In Jesus name, Amen.




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1 Response to Turning Back Time-Living with regret

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