Do you have something you regret? Big or little- minor or severe- most, if not all of us regret something in our lives. For me, the one thing I always wish I could go back and ‘do over’ was walking away from my family, the church and most of my friends… for a guy.
Now, to be honest, he wasn’t a normal guy. He was an extremely manipulative, controlling, abusive guy. And there are times when I thought that no matter what, I wouldn’t have stood a chance. But I can’t blame everything on him. I made the decision to be with him. I made the decision to let him have control over me. And yes, he was a master manipulator, but the initial decision to be with him was mine and mine alone.
For as much as I desperately want to regret my decisions and all of the time I spent with him and everything I did, I can’t regret it. Because as terrible and horrible as it was, it taught me so much. First and foremost, I think I truly for the first time began to understand forgiveness, and unconditional love.
There was so much to forgive after everything that happened. My parents forgave me more times than I can count. I had to beg forgiveness from God, my family, my friends. I had to learn to forgive myself. And the big one that I’m still struggling with- I had to forgive the guy.
Going through traumatic experiences in life teach you a lot about the person that you are. It amazes me to hear the stories of people that forgive the killers of their loved ones. And while my experience may not have been that extreme, I still had a lot of healing and forgiving to do. And I don’t think that the point of forgiveness is to fix everything and go back to what you had before. It’s not about letting a situation define you. It’s about letting it teach you. Forgiveness is finding healing and strength in the face of things that tear you down and knock you out. Forgiveness is learning that no matter what a person does to you; their offense is never as bad as the offenses that you’ve committed against God.
That last line, I can’t claim as my own. Several months ago I went and heard Joyce Meyer speak. She talked about the characteristics of a perfect heart and for some reason, that line is something that has stuck with me ever since.
Regrets are something we all deal with. They’re something that we all have the option of. But why worry about something that is in the past and can’t be changed? Wouldn’t a better use of time be to figure out what you can learn from the experience and use it?
During this journey, I’ve decided to read through the Bible in a year. It’s something that I’ve never actually done before and I’m really excited by it. During just the last few days a culmination of things happened. And I am convinced that God wants to use this to teach me something, and so I am going to share it with all of you.
The first thing that happened was I read through the story in Genesis of Joseph. For anyone that doesn’t know- the story is about a boy who found favor in his father’s eye which caused all of his brothers to be jealous. So jealous in fact- that they thought about killing him. They didn’t actually go through with the plan however and instead sold Joseph in to slavery. Crazy you say? Yes, you read correctly. They sold their own flesh and blood into slavery. Talk about jealousy.
Anyway- what happens next, you ask? Well, you see- Joseph pities himself and gives up.
I’m kidding. The truth is MUCH more impressive. Because years go by, and one thing leads to another until Joseph becomes the right hand man of Pharaoh. As in- ruler of the land. So here’s Joseph- the man who was sold into slavery and then thrown into jail for a woman accusing him of rape, he interprets the dreams of the ruler of the kingdom that no one else has been able to interpret, and Pharaoh makes him second in command.
Talk about impressive.
Okay- so I read through this story the other day, and it really got me thinking about regrets and circumstances and how God can use all of these things.
Onto the second thing that happened to me. This morning, I went out to breakfast with a friend. We were talking about reading the Bible and how sometimes the stories are hard to read, and I mentioned my thoughts on Joseph and how God uses the strangest things for his Glory. Just like Joseph. We talked a little bit about how it always seems to amaze us- the way God uses people.
The third thing that happened to me also happened this morning. And here’s the kicker- and why I’m convinced I need to be writing about this right now. Sitting in church this morning, my dad is talking about how God gives us all opportunities to shape us. He mentioned David and Goliath. How David had been faithful to God before Goliath. In fact, the Bible says that David killed both a lion and a bear to protect the sheep that he was entrusted with. He learned to stare danger and adversity in the face and attack it head on. He had been faithful in those areas. God knew that David would be faithful again.
And then, my dad mentioned Joseph. Oh Joseph. This guy is starting to seem like a real pal to me these last few days. (And hey, as a sidenote- this is my year without a man…. I’m not supposed to be giving men this much thought… even ones that lived thousands of years ago). Anyway- Pastor (it sounds more official than ‘dad’) talked about Joseph and all of the things that he faced in his life. His own flesh and blood sold him, a woman accused him of rape, he was thrown in jail where the jailer gave him responsibility over everyone in there, and then once he had used the opportunity that God had given him, God gave him another one.
Life is all about opportunities. Sometimes it’s hard to see them when we’re so focused on all of the things that we think are going wrong in our lives. And yeah, I’m sure Joseph had some hard times. I’m sure he had some days where he didn’t feel like getting out of bed in the morning. But that doesn’t mean he didn’t make the most of the opportunities he was given.
For me, this year is an opportunity to focus on things outside of me. It’s a time to take opportunities, no matter what shape they make take. I’m not sure I’ll take it quite as far as Jim Carrey’s character in Yes Man, where he HAS to say YES to EVERY opportunity that comes before him, but we’ll see. If the opportunities are from God, than who am I to say no?
Besides, if I’m faithful with the little ones, who knows what’s just around the bend.
P.S. It’s my birthday today. Leave me a little note? You’re all the best! ❤