When I was writing “And God Still Loves Me”, my friend and mentor from Rachel's Hope suggested I use an article written by her husband, the late Jim Benefield, LMFT, as it reflected what I had gone through. The article, “Turning Your Lifelong Regrets into Immeasurable Graces", is a wonderful testament of God's mercy and provides hope and healing for those living in shame due to their past. The following is an excerpt of that article.
The Regions of Regret
Some have said, “I was in the wrong place at the wrong time”, or, “I wish that I was born at a different time”, but the bare fact remains. What has been done cannot be physically undone. Once an act is realized, that act remains a part of real-time history, never to be erased. In the progressive momentum of time, one's circumstances may change for the better or worse according to one's opportunities. And even though some original acts that can be rectified by succeeding opportunities, other regrettable acts leave a lasting legacy of shame, self-hatred, anger and depression.
These are the regions of regret. “If only I had a second chance”, “I wish I could take everything back that I said”, “I'm so sorry that I had the abortion; hit my wife; sexually abused my child; have to go to jail because I burglarized a car; ever used drugs; punched my mom; received a sexually transmitted disease because of promiscuous sex at such an early age.” Often times the consequences of an act can follow throughout one's life without relief from emotional pain because one cannot undo what has been done within the limits of linear time and physical distance.
When people lose their ability to focus on the present with hope for the future because of the traumas and failures of the past, they easily become prey to depression and despair. In their self-absorption, hopeless people cannot see God and what He might be doing through the events that they regret. Their anger and even hatred towards others hold them back from looking into the merciful eyes of God.
Thankfully, Jesus is not bound by linear time or physical distance: “Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever.” By his divine-human power, Jesus has borne all of our sorrows. By his divine-human power, Jesus has perfectly atoned for each and every one of our sins. Moreover, Jesus has prepared a perfect life for each of us. As St. Paul wrote in his letter to the Ephesians, “We are God's handiwork, created in Christ Jesus for good works that He has prepared for us beforehand that we should walk in them” (Ephesians 2:10). Jesus has gone before us to offer the Father all of our sins, washed in his Precious Blood. For this present moment, and for each future present moment of our lives, Jesus has prepared a perfect act of love for us to do together with Him, for the glory of the Father, and for the good of all souls, past, present, and future. Making friends with past losses and regrets by purposefully giving them back to God with Jesus and placing them in his providential hand opens the way to total freedom from the bondage of living in regrets.
Cedars of Lebanon, Newsletter of the John Paul II Institute of Christian Spirituality
HAVE A BLESSED DAY!