Updated: Mar 9, 2020
The Power of Reflection, Regret, and Redemption.
Listen to Podcast Episode: The Value of Regret: Let's Not Waste This Moment! It's the Perfect time to..., Podcast Episode 16.
It’s not only the end of another year but the end of decade as well. Let’s Not Waste This Moment! It’s the perfect time to do something very difficult but very good. We’re going to look at our regrets for just a moment, but it is for a purpose. The important purpose of growing. An important part of living well is taking time to reflect, even on the tough stuff, be willing to be honest with ourselves about the messes we may see and do what it takes to clean them up and grow from them!
The last decade, our family has had wonderful times like the birth of our last child, the graduation of five of our children, the marriage of three of them, and then adding two grand babies also!
But the past decade has also contained some of the most difficult days of my life. Of the difficult days, do you know what ones hurt the most? It’s the days that I discovered wounds in my children’s hearts that I had caused. I say it in a couple of my books, but regret is one of the most painful feelings in the world. I do know this, though, deep regret means that I love deeply, and I know that is a good thing. My parenting regrets come from the times I was too strict with a lack of a merciful spirit. Yet it’s interesting to note that I meet mamas every day who are living with the regret of being too weak in boundaries or limits with their kids. It’s so complex for me to understand how the strict mama and the permissive mama both must live with regret. Boy, this parenting gig is tough! It’s like we have a fine little narrow line to walk to keep out of hot water on either side. What’s a mama to do?
I’m very thankful that God taught me Mercy Seat Parenting as a result of that regret. I’ve talked about Mercy Seat parenting a few times in my podcast and in two of my books (Wearing All Your Hats without Wearing Out and Clash In Your Home: Getting a Game Plan for Cleaning Up the Conflict). It changed my life and the trajectory of my kids’ future. That just makes me so grateful that God took our brokenness and revealed His heart and showed me a better way. He took the wounds and He redeemed those relationships and has made them more beautiful than ever.
I’m learning the importance of reflection and lingering in today before it vanishes into the steps of new adventures. We’re in such a hurry for the next adventure, the next milestone, the next opportunity when God has many lessons for each day. Learn today's lessons before you move on to tomorrow. Go ahead, reflect, dig deep, even ask your kids some hard questions that you won’t want to hear the answers to. Ask them if they have bad memories or a hurting heart about anything in their past. Open the door to those wounds and look at them together. Take some time at the end of this decade to reflect and ponder, even if it stings, even if it’s messy.
You see, Hiding in the messy moments are opportunities for God moments with our kids –times where God is quietly calling out for our attention. He wants to reveal His heart, His ways, His character and His power to transform the broken. He wants to do this with us and wants us to help our children discover who He is as well. If I will live a lifestyle of looking for the God moments, God will provide the lessons and it is these lessons that our children need most of all to prepare them for their future moments. He takes the wounds, the regrets, the messes and transforms them IF we will wholeheartedly face them, be willing to do the difficult work of cleaning them up and of learning from our mistakes.
You know, I think Miss Frizzle had it right. Did you ever read the books or watch the show Magic School Bus? The teacher, Ms Frizzle, always said to, “Take chances, make mistakes, get messy.” I think messes come to those who are living. We are flawed humans and if we wait to live until we are perfect, we will do no living at all. We really do want to LIVE life and teach our kids to do the same, even if it means we’ll have some regrets along the way.
Jesus said that He came that we might have life more abundant. I don’t’ think that meant perfect or wealthy or easy either. I think an abundant life is full of challenges and messes and mistakes. Ahhh, we’re back to that again. Mistakes. Intentional Mom, I’ve got bad news and good news for you for the coming decade. You’re going to make some messes and make some mistakes. You’re not going to always say the right thing or identify every struggle accurately in your kids. You’re going to have lots of decisions to make and you’re not always going to make the right ones. You’re probably even going to cause some wounds on your children’s hearts that will require anguishing regret and uncomfortable mending. Of course, regret and mending is far better than ignoring and letting it fester. The good news is that we serve a God who is a redeemer! He doesn’t just redeem our souls from an eternity without Him, although that is a great gift! He redeems our moments. Not by erasing regret but by making our scars beautiful, IF we’re willing to face our messes and clean them up.
I don’t enjoy facing my messes. It’s something I’ve been doing this very week. I’ve been reviewing my last many years and being willing to see how I am the blame for plenty of messes. I go ahead and live in the pain of the regret on purpose for a little while, letting reality sting because I don’t want to waste the important role of regret. It is like a refiner’s fire of my character. It sears into my heart the importance of not making the same mistake again, of sincerely apologizing where needed, seeking to mend however I can, and being passionate about pursuing God’s help in growing in that area. There is healing in the refiner’s fire. So, Intentional mom, go ahead, at the end of this decade - be brave and spend some time reflecting on the messes and allow some growth in you! Let’s not avoid the mess and let it fester – not in us or in our kids. I don’t know how He does it! I really don’t. But I know that in the last ten years, I have seen God reshape the wounds and the regret into something more beautiful than I deserve, more beautiful than I could have asked for or imagined. He has done it in my marriage and in my relationships with my kids. He redeems our brokenness by making our scars beautiful! We can trust God with our moments and our mistakes. I enter a new decade knowing this more than I did a decade ago and I am grateful.