Having Regrets at Christmas?
As another year winds downs, many of us look back and feel some regret for things either done or left undone. Maybe we regret not spending more time with family or friends. Maybe we spent too much money. Maybe we spoke words in anger that tore apart a good relationship. Maybe we try to mask over our regrets by staying super busy. Christmastime can definitely bring up some regrets. What if I told you, however, that there are healthy ways to deal with regret that could make this season joyous and freeing?
In Acts 20, the writer records one of Paul’s final conversations with some of his closest friends in a place called Ephesus. Paul was quite reflective with his buddies and recounted some of the “severe testing” that took place in his career (Acts 20:19). Paul was nothing but honest! He even threw his hands up on occasion and wondered why he did things he didn’t really want to do (Romans 7). Yet, Paul landed on one of the key components of dealing with regrets. He said, “I consider my life worth nothing to me; my only aim is to finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me—the task of testifying to the good news of God’s grace” (Acts 20:24).
Michael Godfrey of Baylor University says that there are three ingredients to living without regret. Paul’s statement contains all three ingredients which are also relevant to us. The first ingredient is thoughtful planning. In other words, plan to work out of your unique self. Paul’s chief aim was to complete the task that God gave him. He worked in his strengths, and that made all the difference. Dr. Godfrey says it like this: “Don’t get so deeply involved in what you have to do that you completely lose connection with what you love to do.”
The second ingredient is taking action. Paul’s conversation in Ephesus took place just as he headed towards certain martyrdom. He would not be deterred from his goal. That is, Paul had great boundaries and asserted himself according to his responsibility to fulfill God’s calling.
The third ingredient is living in the present. Ask yourself today: What is the most important this that I can do in the time that I have? You may consider asking this question of God, as well. God will give you direction and guidance as to the paths that He desires you travel.
I pray that we can mix these three ingredients together and be set free from regret this Christmas season!