Updated: Mar 24, 2019
My mother would say, “Idle time is the Devil’s workshop.” This basically means bored (and unsupervised) people do bad things. While this principle applies to many kids, children with divorced parents are particularly vulnerable because their anger with the divorce can fuel rebellious actions. As a result, many of us have decisions in our past that sting our memories years later: sex at a young age drinking with embarrassing or tragic consequences lying stealing numbing our pain with drugs or cutting an abortion…or two or starting our pornography addiction. But what can we do when regrets race to the surface?
A man who knows regret Peter the apostle had a major regret—he denied Jesus Christ. Worse, Peter denied he knew Jesus three times in quick succession. Worse yet, he denied Jesus after telling him “Even if everyone else deserts you, I will never desert you.” * Still worse, after Peter denied him, Jesus turned and looked over at him (Luke 22:61). So after three quick decisions Peter was a broken man and wept bitterl y.
Can you imagine the shame, hurt, and despair from denying his close friend (and the Savior of the world)—after he’d seen countless miracles and walked on the water with him? In some ways, many of us can. Not the denying Jesus part, but doing something (or things) that cause us to wince in shame, hurt, and despair—even years later.
How do we overcome regrets?
After Peter’s dark hour, he does something Judas didn’t—let Jesus take away the pain of the regret. When Jesus rose from the grave, he told Mary Magdalene (the first witness of his resurrection) “go tell the disciples, and Peter” to meet the resurrected Jesus in Galilee (Mark 16:7). Later Jesus had a heart-to-heart restorative chat with Peter (John 21:15-19).
Jesus wants to have a heart-to-heart with you, too. He doesn’t want you weighed down by past regrets. Start your conversation with Jesus by confessing you messed up and you’re sorry. If an ongoing sin or addiction is involved, repent and earnestly seek God’s healing—pursuing whatever help is necessary.
However, confession is key. “If we freely admit that we have sinned,
we find God utterly reliable and straightforward—he forgives our sins and makes us thoroughly clean from all that is evil.” ** Once confessed to God, it’s done in his eyes. “As far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us.” ***
Moving Forward Peter was able to overcome his regrets by proclaiming the forgiveness and grace God offers to the world—forgiveness and grace he knew from personal experience. Sharing about God’s forgiveness and grace in our lives draws others to the Source of true healing and reinforces God’s goodness in our hearts and minds. This is a powerful and proven way to overcome regrets.
* Matthew 26:33, NLT ** 1 John 1:9, Phillips NT *** Psalm 103:12, ESV