Thursday, October 18, 2012

To Regret and Forgive

What are your thoughts on regret?

That very word is so "loaded" these days, I think. We tend to hear it most in the context of, "Have no regrets" or "I don't believe in having regret." I know I may be alone in this (well, my husband and I talked about this last night and we agreed so I'm not totally alone!) but the idea that we shouldn't have regrets is a pet peeve of mine. I disagree with it.

I do, however, agree with the larger connotation of these catch-phrases, which is that we should not wallow in regret or dwell on the past. We shouldn't cry over spilled milk, and I agree wholeheartedly with this (though it can be difficult to do). It's so important to forgive ourselves for our mistakes and for the things we cringe about only in hindsight.

But to say that we should never have regrets implies that we never made mistakes. That there's nothing we could have done better, or made right. I think that regrets are actually healthy if we allow ourselves to acknowledge them honestly and learn from them. I believe that all of us--our successes, our happy relationships, our good stories, in addition to the sad stories and the failings and the things we wish we could take back--make us who we are.

I found this quote on regret by a modern Christian philosopher, Nicholas Wolterstorff, from his book Lament for a Son, and I think it's lovely:

And what of regrets? I shall live with them. I shall accept my regrets as part of my life, 
to be numbered among my self-inflicted wounds. But I will not endlessly gaze at them. 
I shall allow the memories to prod me into doing better...And I shall allow them to 
sharpen the vision and intensify the hope for that Great Day coming when we can all 
throw ourselves into each other's arms and say, "I'm sorry."

What do you think of this idea of acknowledging regrets, forgiving them, and striving to do better? I would love to know.


  1. I believe that the only people truly without regret are those that have never made a decision.

  2. I think it's all about how we define the word "regret".

    I agree with everything you said about making mistakes, learning from them... but that's what they are, mistakes. I've made so many of them in my past, and they definitely shaped me and helped me grow into the person I am now.

    I just feel that the word "regret" means that you wish, with all of your being, that whatever it is that happened, never did happen.

    Which would defeat the purpose of learning and growing, right? As hard as those mistakes were to live through, I don't regret them. (Gosh, I hope that makes sense:)

    1. This does make sense, and I definitely understand your perspective on this. I think you're right that there is more than one way to define regret, and that these different interpretations can lead to different viewpoints on regret.

      I'm so glad you shared your thoughts, thank you!! :)


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