(Charles) Fulton Oursler, was a noted American journalist and writer who once said: “Many of us crucify ourselves between two thieves – regret for the past and fear of the future.”
Truer words are yet to be spoken! Regret is a common thief that robs many of us of our future. It’s impossible to literally live in the past but regret will imprison you to it. And if you’re imprisoned to the past there will be no future. Therefore, I live by my personal mantra: “’I’m going to LIVE until I die!” This is the singular inspiration that prevents me from succumbing to the status quo. It’s essential if I am to live life to its fullest and without regrets. I strongly suggest that you do the same!
With the dawning of each new day, life provides the unsolicited opportunity for us to regret something we’ve done or didn’t do. Although life gives us that opportunity, we personally get to establish what we consider to be regrettable. Regrettably, we sometimes consider things regrettable that are literally beyond our control.
Let’s consider death as an example. We can’t control the death of someone we love, yet after their death we almost intuitively search for something to regret. Regardless of how caring and attentive we were to the deceased and their needs, we still impulsively look for things we’ve failed to do. We say things like: “If only I had spent more time with them!” I wish I could’ve said I’m sorry!” “I didn’t get a chance to say goodbye!” Believe me when I tell you, you can always find something to regret; and most of the time it’s for things you didn’t do.
On August 9, 2009, I received a telephone call from one of my favorite cousins. When I heard her voice that evening, I already knew what she called to tell me. No! She did not sound disturbed or shaken but for some strange reason, I knew what she was going to say. We talked for several minutes, mostly small talk. Then she announced, “I have something to tell you.” To which I replied, “My mama is dead!”
She could not believe her ears; she wondered how I knew. While at the same time, I could not believe my ears, the woman who gave birth to me was gone. Suddenly, a thousand memories passed through my mind as we closed out the brief conversation. As soon as I hung up the phone, I immediately began to crucify myself between past regret and fear of the future. There I was sandwiched between, “Why did I not do this or that?” and “What am I going to do now?”
Over the next few days, I would become an emotional wreck internally, while displaying the façade of stability and poise. For weeks and months thereafter, I was haunted by regrets. I miserably regretted my short comings as a son and my complete failure as a caregiver.
While dealing with my personal crucifixion, along comes some people to assist in inflicting additional pain. They were friends, acquaintances and even church leaders. They smiled in my face, said they were praying for me, attended the service and even offered their sympathy but it was disingenuous. Their questions, judgment, innuendo and rumors pierced me. They poured salt into my open emotional wounds; providing additional agony. They said what they said because they didn’t know my mother. I had served as their pastor for almost 18 years and none of them had ever seen her mother before. So they made all kinds of negative remarks and statements. What they didn’t know was that my mother was in a nursing facility for a very long time.
Sidebar: It never ceases to amaze me, whenever you are hurt, you can look for hurt people to hurt you more. It’s not that you hurt them; they just can’t help it because they don’t know how to process their pain.
So there I was, crucified between regret and fear, while hurt people tortured me with their words. Their words gave me even more things to regret!
Well! It’s a year later now! And the only thing I regret is that for 25 years, my mother didn’t know who I was.
Your Lesson: Life is much too short to spend precious time in a state of regret. Do what you can, and live until you die!