Sunday, March 29, 2009

Valley of Regret

By Ramy A. Bakke, MMFT

"You don't want to squander your wonderful life, to waste your precious life among the hardhearted. Why should you allow strangers to take advantage of you? Why be exploited by those who care nothing for you? You don't want to end your life full of regrets, nothing but sin and bones, Saying, 'Oh, why didn't I do what they told me? Why did I reject a disciplined life? Why didn't I listen to my mentors, or take my teachers seriously? My life is ruined! I haven't one blessed thing to show for my life!' " (Proverbs 5:7-14, The Message, Used with permission)

Have you ever been through a season in your life when things just didn’t turn out the way you wanted them to? Have you regretted things you’ve said? Or done? Have you wished you could do it all over again with the perspective that you’ve gained from being on the other side of the season? I have. I bet you have too.

When we are challenged in the seasons of life with either job loss, loss of health, loss of friends, loss of finances, loss of family members, for some reason or another, we often become highly introspective. This is normal. It is part of the grieving process involved in getting through the losses. Introspection, also called, reflection, can be very healthy if we allow ourselves to be changed through the process. It is when we stay on the merry-go-round and continue to repeat the same eternal life lessons that we fail to achieve what the season has taught us. Then the question is, is our reflection or introspection muddied by some other factor? Are there things that keep us from seeing clearly what it is that we are supposed to see or change? All of these questions can have answers that are highly explainable. It is what we do with these answers that makes the difference between future success and future demise. Every single one of us, if we are honest, has had a season or seasons of loss where we are not as productive as we could have been. Is this a negative in our overall outlook? It depends on our perspective. The most important perspective is God’s perspective. Too often, we get caught up in what others think of us as to whether or not we are successful. But, in the end, this is counterproductive.

It matters not what others think of us, but what our Creator thinks of us. In the Proverb above, the writer says to the listener, “why be exploited by those who care nothing for you want to end your life full of regrets… why didn’t I do what they told me?... why didn’t I listen to my mentors?” The writer is squealing both about those around him who care nothing for him, and for the fact that he didn’t listen to his mentors. He went through a season regretting his life for his mistakes and for those around him who he cared about, but who exploited him. This is where the tendency to lose perspective can overtake a man or woman who is lost in the season of low productivity and loss. You can hear the pain in the writer’s voice about those around him who exploited him. He regrets allowing himself to be exploited. You can hear the pain in his voice when he regrets not listening to those who were placed in his life to teach him and lead him. Yet, he has a choice. He can stay in the place called, “regret,” or he can pick himself up and move beyond it towards a new season of growth and productivity. He can practice self-reflection and learn from his mistakes, thereby, getting off the merry-go-round of un-productivity, or he can choose to stay in the place of regret and repeat the cycle of loss.

Either way, His Creator will love Him until He can make the right choices. What kind of love is this that allows us to learn from just such a season? It is the same kind of love that allows us to learn from our choices and to own our part in the consequences of choice. There are many lately who want to legislate choice for others. There are many moral reasons to legislate choices, such as: “Should the drinking age be lowered to 18?” “Should we allow credit card companies to set their own interest rates?” “Should we allow women to be in control of their own bodies?” Many of these questions are hotly debated choices, yet, in the end, we are all responsible for our own choices and the consequences of our choices. We are responsible for how we treat others; for how we love one another; for how we accept one another; for how we live with one another, etc. It is important that we know for certain that our choices are going to be choices we can live with, so life will not be full of regret. For to live in the valley of regret is to live in the valley of loss which is not a happy place to be.

So whether you are in a season of great loss (which many in the nation are) or in a season of rebuilding, or in a season of great success, it is important to practice healthy introspection/ reflection. Evaluate where you are, where you have been and where you are going. Remember that where you have been does not have to dictate where you are going, but it can teach you the important lessons that will help you have a more productive future. Accept the losses as lessons and move forward into life as an active learner. But most of all, know that your Heavenly Father, the Creator of your soul is not angry with you, nor impatient with your learning process. He is with you and nearest to you even in the humblest of times. He believes in you and will cheer you on. Even if you feel no one is with you, He is with you and will never forsake you! And know beyond a shadow of a doubt that you are loved… so I invite you to move out of the valley of regret into a place of healthy reflection where you can learn to move into your future with acceptance and grace!

© 2009, RamyB, Bakke Music Group

1 comment:

Dwacon® said...

Comforting thoughts. Thanks!