What mother can forget the moment she held her newborn for the first time? I know I can’t. Our firstborn, Aubrie Noelle, entered our world on August 31, 1988, at 12:59 am. Being parents for the first time introduced my husband and me to a love we’d never before known. We resolved to be the best parents possible and took seriously the responsibility for the precious gift God had entrusted to our care. Somewhere along the line, however, that first sense of wonder wore off as we got down to the business of everyday life. As a stay-at-home mom, my days were filled with changing diapers, doing laundry, grocery shopping, preparing meals, cleaning, and homeschooling our children. My husband’s role as a pastor was filled with studying, writing sermons, counseling, and caring for the flock at our church as well as our “flock” at home. We enjoyed much time together as a family, but we weren’t always as deliberate as we should have been.
We’ve watched with joy as three of our five children have become adults. We’ve experienced the sadness of letting go and realizing this season has passed. It’s not that we don’t spend time together anymore, but we realize the bulk of our influence on them is over.
The fact is that we’ve experienced great regret over missed opportunities. While we are proud of our children for their passionate love for Christ and we love the people they’ve become, we know we could have spent more time playing with them and spending time in the Word with them and less time being consumed with stresses of life. At times these feelings of regret have been almost crippling in our lives. We have sought and received forgiveness from our children and from God, but occasionally these regrets come back to torment me.
So how should we handle regret? First, we should confess it as sin to God and ask His forgiveness. Next, we should seek forgiveness from our children. Finally, we should move on and begin making the most of every opportunity.
We should acknowledge our failures, but parking ourselves in the place of regret yields no benefits. In the old hymn, Before the Throne of God Above, the songwriter captures beautifully the victory that is ours:
When Satan tempts me to despair,
And tells me of the guilt within,
Upward I look and see Him there,
Who made an end to all my sin.
Because the sinless Savior died
My sinful soul is counted free
For God, the Just, is satisfied
To look on Him and pardon me.
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