If you’re at all like me, there have been times in your life when you’ve struggled with regrets. Times where the torment of your “if only’s” robbed you of peace and squelched your joy. I’ve certainly felt the misery these two words can inflict.
After all, what kind of a mom is absently baking a pie while her son is facing his final days on earth? How in the world could I be sleeping in bed while my son is taking his final breaths? Why wasn’t I aware that he was deathly sick? (We had seen him extremely sick many times before. ) Oh, how deeply I regret that I wasn’t holding my precious son in my arms when he took his final breath, and I would give anything to be there to comfort and walk through the valley of the shadow of death with my Austin. Was he scared? Did he have pain that I could have relieved? Of all the times I should’ve been there for my son, it was then. But I wasn’t. I was asleep.
The thought of this reality hurts deeply.
If only I hadn’t returned to sleeping after he was out of bed to use the restroom. If only we would’ve been aware the CMV (virus) he received from his donor heart had completely destroyed his white blood count. What if we would’ve just taken him to the hospital rather than being in touch with his transplant cardiologist over the phone?
Did you know these two little words have the potential to sap every drop of peace and joy from our lives? “If only” are the two most crippling words in our vocabulary. “If only” keeps us chained to our pasts while robbing us of the future. “What ifs” enslave us with regrets that darken our otherwise blissful moments.
If you are prone to toxic thinking, you’ve likely also struggled with these two potentially dangerous words.
If only…I wouldn’t have let them down.
If only… I would’ve tried harder.
If only… I was a stronger, better person.
If only… I had made the other choice.
If only… I wouldn’t keep messing up.
If only… I had been more aware.
If only… I could have another chance.
Many times, we are prone to be harder on ourselves than others. Why? I believe our enemy, the accuser, knows if he can cause us to believe toxic lies about ourselves, we begin to live out those lies. When we live with regret, we live with condemnation. Living with condemnation makes us feel like a failure, and when we feel like a failure, we will act like a failure.
My husband and I are currently writing a book entitled “From Pain to Purpose”, and we are devoting a section of the book to speak to this exact issue. While I can’t possibly go into depth about this in just one blog, I just want you to know that the self-condemnation of regret is the enemy. It has never benefitted anything or anyone. If you see that your regrets aren’t being advantageous to your situation or to a loved one, choose to release them to God. Instead of beating yourself up about what you should’ve done differently, choose to forgive yourself. Don’t stay a prisoner to regret, allowing the flood of negative thoughts and emotions to overtake you. Remember, your extreme regret proves how deeply you care.
Yes, I was baking a pie during my son’s final days, but it was his favorite—a healthy version of peanut butter pie. I wanted to make a special treat that accommodated the dietary restrictions he and his sister had. God has also helped me to realize I wasn’t the horrible, neglectful mom I viewed myself to be because of sleeping while my son was dying. My husband had offered to sleep on the floor beside our son’s bunk, in case he needed something during the night.
I remember feeling exhausted as I wearily climbed into our bed with my busy 2-year-old and our 5-month-old baby. Little did I know that a few hours later, my life would forever be changed.
The past eight years have been a journey for me since the death of my son. But one of the best ways I’ve found healing from my regrets is to more fully grasp the incredible love the Father has for me. No, He isn’t blind to my faults as a human being. But He does see the heart of love I have for each of my children. His heart is pleased that I would, in a heartbeat, give my life for each of them. Father God delights in me. And the same is true for you. Your heavenly Father says that you are enough. You are precious in His sight. Imperfections and all.
It is nearly impossible to move beyond our regrets until we grasp the infinite love and forgiveness of God. Are you recognizing the many ways God is delighting and loving you today?
~Cindy (For The Mullett Family)