Regret–What a Waste

There’s nothing like a college reunion to raise a slew of emotions—and for me, amidst much joy, laughter and celebration, lay the bittersweet taint of regret.
Last week, I took my daughter on our first college tour, and attended a reunion celebrating the 25thanniversary of the Northwestern University Graduate Christian Fellowship.  And while I enjoyed every bit of the whole process (other than developing some weird tendonitis on the top of my right foot from walking so much), regret inserted itself into my consciousness at various times throughout the weekend:
  • Regret that I haven’t kept up with, or invested more in friends I love
  • Regret that some of my decisions led me out of closer community
  • Regret that I didn’t invest in graduate school as well as I could have

But most of all, regret that I spent too many of my undergrad years feeling regret. I didn’t attend my dream college because my parents couldn’t afford to send me and Northwestern was the only school that gave me money.  Despite praying throughout high school that God would send me where I was supposed to go by providing financial aid (but please please please God let me go to school on the Mainland), when I got to college and life was hard, a tint of regret poisoned the pure gratitude I felt for being able to leave home and attend a top notch university.  I wasn’t fully satisfied with how God actually answered my prayer

As I walked around the campus where I spent 7 years of my life, thinking what a great education I received, all I could think was, “What a waste that I spent any energy in regret.”
Yesterday I met with my spiritual director, and talked about regret—how knowing God opened and shut doors while leading me through most of my decisions still doesn’t kill regret over opportunities lost, how knowing that I probably wouldn’t be married to Scott or mother my 3 kids or enjoy the friends I love still doesn’t keep me from regretting some of the past, how I just don’t want to waste anymore effort in regret, but don’t know how.
She said, “I think all this comes down to the question ‘Is God good?  You probably should ask him that.’”
Hmmm. . .
Today, while I walked with a friend, she said she heard that ruminating can be bad.  Ruminating on the past can lead to depression.  Ruminating on the future can lead to anxiety.  Instead, we live and work and breathe in the present.
That made sense.  Regret robs me from receiving the present moment God wants to give me, as does worry.
As the reunion tempted me to ruminate on the past (regret), and the college tours tempted me to ruminate on the future (worry about whether and where my kids will go to college), may God help me to live in the present and show me, minute by minute, that He is good.
What do you regret?  How do you move on?
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This was first posted on What She Said

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