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Tuesday, August 19, 2014

What Popular Notion has the World Got Wrong?

Day 26: What popular notion do you think the world has wrong?

I just have to pick one? There are so many! 

The first one that comes to mind is "live life with no regrets."

That is not to say we should let regrets consume or haunt us. Nor should we allow fear to hold us back from opportunities. But to say one "has no regrets" is either to lack self awareness or empathy.

The brutally honest truth is that none of us are perfect and none of us have lived life without actions that really weren't smart or kind. I said that claiming no regrets reveals a lack of self awareness in that perhaps the person who says that hasn't spent any time thinking over their actions. In that case they may be incapable of personal growth because they haven't been able to learn from their mistakes. And the reason I said this might indicate a lack of empathy is because none of us live in a bubble and many of our mistakes involve others, and may even be acts against others. Perhaps a callous word or a cruel act, perhaps negligence of someone's feelings or worth. We're all guilty of these things. To say you have "no regrets" when you know you've committed these things against other people, intentionally or otherwise, is to reveal a lack of compassion. Even if you're able to move on from it, a compassionate person would be able to acknowledge they regret pain they've caused others.

One argument for the "no regrets" worldview is that if you were to regret something you'd be invalidating all the good things that came after and from it. The idea is that since you're a product of all the events of your life, good and bad, wise and foolish, to regret any of them takes away from who you are. Hogwash. 

To regret something is not to change the past, it's to admit you have enough perspective on the past you want to change yourself, heal any wrongs if it's possible, and change the future. Regrets, met with a healthy attitude, are necessary for positive change and personal growth.

And from an eternal perspective if you're unable to be honest enough with yourself to see the imperfections of your actions and words, you can't come to the realization that you need help. And you do need help. Blessedly there is one who is able to help you infinitely, to be a bridge between you and God. His name is Jesus. Regret is the first step on the path of repentance, which means to turn away from the things you've done wrong. It's more than simple regret, but if you don't have regret you'll never get to repentance. And from repentance you can move in faith into eternal life through Jesus.

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