What ifs, if only’s & regrets

 I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11 and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead.

12 Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. 13 Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 3:10-14 NIV)  

I don’t think there is a person alive that doesn’t have some regrets about a decision or decisions they have made and that wouldn’t like a do-over or a second chance.

The regrets, what ifs and if only’s can keep me awake at night.  Life hasn’t gone how I planned in some ways.  Not according to my girlhood dreams anyway.  Or the high ideals I had in my 20’s.

I see many homeless people everyday downtown where I work and I’m sure there isn’t a one of them that wouldn’t give anything for a do-over of some point in their lives.  But again, I doubt there is a single person walking around that feels like they have made every single perfect decision.  Jesus is the only one who could have walked through life feeling that way.  What an amazing feeling that must have been.

But, as the cliche goes, it’s what we do with the regrets that determines so much.  Easier said than done.  That is where the above mentioned Scripture comes in.  Paul certainly did some things he regretted but he said that above all, he wanted to know Christ AND to do his best to forget the past and press on towards the future.  For myself, that is not a one-time thing but something I have to do over and over because  I keep bringing the past up in my mind and blaming the past rather than accepting it for what it is and moving on.  I think doing those 2 things together makes a huge difference:  Wanting to know Christ more as a result of the regrets and the if only’s and the what if’s because He was there with us during everything.  During the poor choices or bad decisions.  He knows every detail involved but He has an overall view of each of those events that we don’t have unless we ask Him for it.  Once we can see those experiences/choices through His eyes, it really helps to forget the past and move forward.

Yes, we have to live with our choices and that is the bitter pill we have to swallow every day.  I regret giving all those years to a system that wasn’t true.  I regret a few decisions I have made in the last  16 years that have affected me physically and financially.  I regret being so slow to see things and change things in relationships.  I know there are people still in the meetings who look at me and tsk tsk and say things like “she got what she deserved” but I know I am forgiven and accepted in the Beloved.

One of the biggest obstacles for me was erasing the message I was taught all my life while in the meetings that God punishes us for our decisions forever.  I’m not sure I even believed I was truly forgiven and that God had honestly forgotten my poor choice.  That He sees everything through the eyes of restoration and renewal.  Nothing we do or say catches Him by surprise.  He is totally prepared to handle all our mess ups.  I lived under the shadow of I have to try harder, be better, do more to somehow atone for what I did or said because I wasn’t taught that Jesus had already done everything to take care of all of my sin.  God’s amazing ability to forgive and go on, which is called His Grace, was not preached at all.  So it left me feeling depressed, not good enough at times, or else superior and judgmental of others who had made mistakes I hadn’t made.  But once I stepped back and took in His Amazing Grace, I then totally wanted to make future decisions more prayerfully and carefully and be a better person on every level.  That also is not preached in the meetings.  They don’t believe in the Gospel of Grace because they think it means we can just do whatever we want and we will be forgiven because His grace is sufficient.  The Apostle Paul wrestled with the same question and came to the conclusion, “God forbid!”  I honestly do not know why the workers avoid that portion of scripture because God’s Grace is the most freeing message ever told.  But they prefer legalism and control sadly.

Paul said he wanted to know the power of the resurrection and I do too.  Bring new life to dead places, new hope to hopeless areas, new inspiration from painful memories.  Jesus didn’t have regrets but He knew plenty of suffering in His life because of our messes so He knows what to do and He remembers how it feels.  We have no reason to live under the weight of guilt and regret; doing so is a needless use of our energy.  Do we believe His message?  All of it?  Dare we?  YES! We dare!

 

 

 

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16 thoughts on “What ifs, if only’s & regrets

  1. I am so glad I found your blog! I agree, the revelation of God’s grace is one of the most liberating experiences in my life. I felt an enormous weight lift off me and a huge rush of adrenaline as I realized I was going to step into the unknown territory of trusting in Christ alone for my salvation. Makes me smile to remember.

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  2. Again, I just love your posts, Darla. My heart beats a little faster every time I see you have posted! I too have made some very bad choices that I have to live with every day. I think that the 2×2 system didn’t teach us to be discerning. I was tricked into a relationship with a man who said he was a Christian, and he probably is, but our differences were too great for the relationship to survive. I know that many people despise me since that time, but I have learned to tell myself that I can go on with Christ, not alone, just going on in Christ. And the Lord is the lifter up of my head. Go on with Christ, Darla. Growing in grace every day.

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  3. Thank you, thank you, thank you! Darla, I stumbled upon your blog about a month ago and am so inspired by your thoughts and prayers that you share so openly. Thank you for your positivity (is that a word?) I climbed out of that box about 30 years ago because I didn’t fit and couldn’t get comfortable and after drifting around for a while and trying several different churches, I “reprofessed” because I felt guilty but shortly after that I knew it wasn’t going to work.
    I continued to drag around a huge box of guilt, fear & and a bunch of other junk on my shoulders. It was a heavy load, I pretended all was ok but on the inside I was a mess! Then I happened on a little church up the road whose members are all for real Christians – what a sense of peace to be able to enjoy fellowship with true believers.
    I joined a women’s bible study group and I have grown so much in my faith. All those years of former life I NEVER STUDIED THE BIBLE! 32 + years of never studying the bible, just looking for something for my testimony 2x a week. What a waste of precious time!
    Last winter we took 4 weeks to study the book of Jude; 4 weeks to study 25 verses…what an amazing study. I wept one night trying to describe how personal this was to me because I KNEW these waterless clouds who blaspheme all they don’t understand. I had been there done that and bear the scars!
    I thank my father every day for opening my eyes and heart… “opening the eyes of my heart” as that Michael W Smith song goes.
    Thank you so much for your encouraging blog and thank you, Steve, for reminding me of that wonderful little epistle Jude wrote.

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    • Wendy, thank you for being so open and honest. I remember feeling & reacting the very same way when I was taking my very first Bible studies with a group of women. (Not women from meetings.)

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  4. Years ago I was in SASK for special meetings rounds. And one day all of the best laid plans had to be changed and I was a stranger and by myself visiting a little lady in a rest home. I was intent on drawing her into conversation, but quickly learned she was not capable of that. Still intent on not being defeated, I put her on my arm and hoped to get us both some exercise as we walked those long lighted halls. Each step seemed to put this little lady into a totally new world and she would frequently pull me to a halt and exclaim in amazement: “Oh! This is where we are now!”

    I admire everyone’s openness and honesty as to “Where we are now” in our journeys, and they are totally unique. I am amazed at what the Lord had done to bring me to where I am now, but also what He is doing that enables me to forget the past. I am unable to compare “Where I am now” with where I was then – they are without a common denominator. Unlike many of you I am not in any relationship that imposes guilt, condemnation nor fear. Despite the loneliness, I am glad for that freedom, and I feel for you and admire you in your uniqueness.

    In the past there was a part of my existence that was perfect for me in my mother’s womb. But the time came when I either had to get out or you know the consequences! I have never cursed that womb nor have I ever wanted to return to it. That is much like where I have spent some time in the past of my adult life: It was where the Lord wanted me at that stage, but the time came I had to get out or I would have perished physically and spiritually. I find it impossible to curse where I had been nor do I find any desire to return to it. There is no common denominator.

    May we prove more and more that it is grace that has brought us to “Where we are now” and that same grace can take us to an even greater reality. Could it be that we are in times that will prove what has actually brought us to “Where we are now”?

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    • Oh Steve, what a wonderful reply you wrote! It was balm to my heart and soul. You are so right in saying that our life as we once knew it and where we are now simply has no common denominator. And like you, I also am not in any relationship that imposes guilt, condemnation nor fear, and what a relief that is. I also resonated with what you wrote about having to leave the Work so that you could survive physically and spiritually. It was time. A line from a hymn we used to sing in the meetings comes to mind, “Right was the pathway, leading to this. Light after darkness, gain after loss, sweet after bitter, crown after cross…”(I know I’m not quoting this in the right order, but just as the phrases come to mind). The Lord has been so faithful and truly it is His grace that has brought us to where we are now. Thank you for what you so kindly shared.

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      • The epistle of Jude has startled me and jolted me into a never before awareness. I am referencing verses 4 and 16. For the first time I understand Jude was exposing apostasy and apostates. That system totally discounts the grace of God. I have witnessed a man in the ministry being excommunicated because of believing and teaching that Christ was divine. And I have witnessed the last of verse 16 practiced all my life and I actually felt that was the way things ought to be done.

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        • Yep. So wrong. I remember a man who came to one of my Gospel meetings (it was his first and only meeting), and he said to me afterwards that we were heretics because we did not believe in Christ was God.

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        • I posted the above before I actually had finished my comment!
          With what Jude teaches along with more recently learning the founding fathers were Free Masons, which is demonic. And the current head of the system practiced that demonic protocol pertaining an issue he was called on the preside over. Leave me startled and really alarmed. But it explains the secrecy, heiarchy and the unspoken agreement among them to not rat on each other.

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  5. Once again Darla, beautifully said! We have been reading another of W. Jacobsen’s books “Finding Church” and wow is that an eye opener! (Has he been looking in our window, or overhearing our conversations, or recognizing what we have yearned for the past few years?) The words of our Lord come to mind so often now with totally new and very real meaning! What has taken us so long to come to this place in our journey? Makes us look forward to the next leg of the journey!!!

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  6. Darla, I really appreciate your openness and honesty, it’s now 2years since I made the decision to leave the meetings, I have travelled a road since that has seen me down in a valley and high on a hill, but every step Jesus has been there, even at the times I felt alone and bewildered.
    I am now attending a small country Chapel, the warmth of their love, acceptance of my past, (I shared it with the Pastor), and their care and prayers have made it so abundantly clear that they are Gods children, just as I know I am his child, and so many others who have been welcomed into his open arms and been forgiven.
    My husband is still drenched in the 2×2 way, and is certain I am lost forever, and I am attending a false church, yet he can see I am much happier then I have been for years!!
    I am experiencing an inner peace that I never had in the 44 years of going to the meetings, and I feel cheated of those 44 years I lived feeling weighed down, depressed, knowing in my heart I didn’t believe what the workers were saying, yet trapped in a little professing box!!
    I love the thought it’s what we do with those regrets, I can not change the past, I question why did God leave me in the place I was in, yet looking back I can remember times God was speaking and leading me , strengthing me, giving me courage to break free from “A Way” and showing me The I AM way, Jesus, the only way.
    So now, I am still surrounded by a Husband , mother in law, father, cousins and two of my children who all go to meetings, but with the In dwelling spirit of Jesus, I am no longer feeling fearful and guilty, just so glad from the bottom of my heart and soul I am where I am today, and maybe, if it were not for the years of bondage in that little box, I would not be so appreciative and amazed at the vastness of Gods grace and mercy that I didn’t know then.

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    • Louise,
      I loved your comment about God giving you courage to break free from “A Way” and then showing you the I AM way, Jesus, the only way. It would not be easy surrounded by so many who still go to meetings but your peace is truly passing all understanding! Thank you for your words.

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    • Darla, …LOVED your post! Thank you so much.

      Louise,
      Your current life circumstances are quite similar to mine so I can certainly emphasize! The ‘meeting system’ is constantly before us as we live day to day with family members (incl. husbands) who are still quite indoctrinated in it. It becomes an ongoing struggle to keep encouraged in the new life we’ve found in Christ.

      One precious thing I’ve come to learn is that I can trust God to keep me even during the times when I’ve made poor choices and have disappointed Him. Somehow, through time however, He often takes those regretful experiences and turns them into times of blessing. Were my 35 adult years of attending the meetings a waste of life? …Perhaps, to a certain degree but had it not been for those years, I doubt that I could have truly valued and laid hold onto REAL truth when it was finally revealed to me.

      I have long felt that God led me through those long years so that when He brought me out, I would be a light to those who are blinded by false teachers and false doctrine, specifically to those in the 2×2 way, and especially to those in my family whom I love so very much. God seemed to have a purpose in allowing me to be involved so long in something so erroneous! But I can see from both sides now! …and maybe that’s what I needed in order to be a help to others.

      The strong condemnations from close family hurt the most, as you know, and the barriers seem so impenetrable. So, unfortunately, I come so far short yet in being any light but I’m still trusting that Gods work in, and purpose for, my life will continue to that end. I find it so difficult to even be willing for obedience in His mission for me, but like Paul, I too want to “press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ.” For me, the prize will be to win at least one family member to the real Christ!

      So, I especially appreciated your thought that “…if it were not for the years of bondage in that little box, I would not be so appreciative and amazed at the vastness of God’s grace and mercy that I didn’t know then.”

      I wish you well, sister.

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  7. For so many years, I have been afraid of God, sure He’s already irritated with me and next time I make a mistake I’m going to really get it. After leaving, I have learned how wrong that is. I was listening to Wayne Jacobsen recently and he shared about having a puppy and loving the puppy stages. They don’t love the puppy because the puppy never makes a mistake. They love watching the puppy grow and learn. They aren’t frustrated with the process of growing out of being a puppy either. He related that to God enjoying the process with us. I have loved that picture.

    So often, I’ve had the “tape running in my head” with regret, accusation and blame. Those thoughts breed more accusations faster than mice! I am learning that God never speaks to us that way. When He speaks it’s a gentle thought or idea, even if it’s correction. It’s the adversary who incessantly squawks. I am learning to catch it quicker and pray. Sometimes even as simple and quick as the ole liar is at it again, please help me. There’s a peace and rest that replaces the why did you, how could you have, you sure blew it then thoughts so quickly.

    I love the thought that Christ walked without regrets, and mine are already covered and erased. That’s really good news! The idea that I have to be perfect to earn God’s approval is really bad news.

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