Saturday, June 30, 2007

Regrets... I've had a few.

I was reading Alistair's blog on being a time travelling vicar last night, and it prompted me to think of my own past... and a few of the things I might have done differently. Lets just think for a minute or two:

If only I had my own TARDIS, I could travel back 70 1975 and warn my mother to keep her 1 year old son away from boiling teapots. If that had happened I might not have been scalded. I could materialize in 1986 and tell an insecure teen aged Nick on his first day at secondary school, not to worry about getting too close with people, that it is OK to let people love you... and not to manipulate them into merely liking you as a eccentric fool.

I could appear back in 1994 and tell myself not to worry about college fees or loneliness and go off to university to study journalism or film editing. I could even have travelled back to 1996 and make it absolutely crystal clear to myself that not all that glitters is gold and that I should be a little more astute in choosing my romantic liaisons.

If you look at these historical hiccups, you can see that they are all interconnected... each one stems from it's chronological predecessor. If I could alter the past they'd never happen and it'd all be different.

The simple truth is though that the past happened and I can't change it. Even if I could... I might end up in a much darker world than I could possibly imagine. I'd be a different person. It is an idea that has been explored many times in popular science fiction: Star Trek, Babylon 5, The Final countdown, Transformers, The Butterfly Effect, Donnie Darko, Frequency and of course Doctor Who... to name but a few.

You often hear an expression in saccharine dramas and soap operas when a person is on their death bed - "I have no regrets". Is that really the case though? I know I certainly regret a couple of things I have done wrong, some of the opportunities I have let slip out of my grasp. I do regret them.. is that so bad?

I don't believe it is.

You see if we didn't regret the things we have done wrong, how could we repent of them? How could we pick ourselves up out of the dirt and pledge to redouble our efforts never to make the same mistake again? If we didn't regret missing past opportunities... where would we get the determination not to feel the same way the next time an opportunity arises?

The worst part of a crime is not when we fall off our horse, it is when we decide to stay sat in the puddle afterwards. I believe it is OK to have a few regrets in life... just so long as your regrets do not have you. When your past overshadows you, it rules your future.

As a Christian I believe that my God is Lord of the past, present and future:

"I, even I, am he who blots out your transgressions, for my own sake, and remembers your sins no more."

- Isaiah 43:25

"There is surely a future hope for you, and your hope will not be cut off."

- Proverbs 23:18

""For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.""

- Jeremiah 29:11

"Each of the four living creatures had six wings and was covered with eyes all around, even under his wings. Day and night they never stop saying: "Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty, who was, and is, and is to come.""

- Revelation 4:8

"Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever."

- Hebrews 13:8

So whilst I have a past... a past with its own fair share of mistakes, successes and the mundane, I have a greater belief that there is one who sets me free from any chains that may be found in my yesterdays... and the hope and faith that he is able to inspire me to a better tomorrow.

I don't wish to be hypocritical and so I'll be up front and honest with you. I struggle with stepping forwards, if I'm candid I have to say that I'm very timid when it comes to bold hopes. I am my own worst enemy. Take women for example.... I am as much terrified by the prospect of being accepted by a woman who genuinely loves me... as i am of being alone. So I make the mistake of embracing the familiar.

That is an attitude that I urge you not to emulate in any area of your life.

If you have a past that you feel you need to come to terms with, maybe you might considering seeking God on this. Be reconciled with your history.

Maybe while you are doing it, you could remember me... and ask God to plant a firm kick on my backside whilst you are at it.


  1. Anonymous7:13 pm

    Well said sir. I can't imagine anyone without a past. It's a necessity to be reconciled with it, for all the reasons you're suggesting. (If we say we have no sin we deceive our selves and the truth is not in us - 1 John 1:8)
    I agree that regrets are not necessarily a bad thing as they serve as stimulus to improve, but to dwell on them too could lead to feeling overly guilty, which is also destructive. Will pray for a kick up the backside for you; You're not the only one who needs it. All the best,
    Robin Killick

  2. excellent post, Nick, and thanks for the link! God has made us who we are, and our past is a part of that. As the previous secretary of the UN Dag Hammarskjold (had to google surname so didn't get spelling completely wrong there!) said "for all that has been 'thanks' and to all that will be 'yes'"


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