Patti Armstrong is an award-winning author and was the managing editor and co-author of Ascension Press’ bestselling Amazing Grace series. Her latest books are: Big Hearted: Inspiring Stories From Everyday Families and Dear God, You Can’t Be Serious. She has a B.A. in social work and an M.A. in public administration and worked in both those fields before staying home to work as a freelance writer. Patti and her husband live in North Dakota, where they are still raising the tail end of their 10 children.
It’s a terrible feeling. Perhaps not the worst thing on Earth, but it leaves you wanting to be swallowed up by it—the Earth that is. You don’t want to face those who will pity or disdain you. You don’t even want to face yourself.
It’s not just that something bad happened but that it could have been avoided if not for your poor choices. It could be a lost temper complete with a flood of regrettable words, or an immoral act or thoughtless gesture. Maybe you threw caution to the wind and made a devastating investment or followed a false visionary that led down a foolish path. The possibilities are endless but the results are the same—humiliation and regret. However, that’s just the landing place that can lead to higher ground—holiness. It was not the route you wanted to take, but detours can still lead to the desired destination.
Models of Regret
There are powerful examples before us that once wallowed in the pit of regret. There was Peter and Judas. Both were remorseful for their actions. One turned to Christ, the other to himself. Yes, denying Jesus compared to betraying him unto death had different ramifications, but we know that Jesus would have forgiven even Judas. He is that merciful.
Jesus said whatever you do unto others you do unto me and even murders are worthy of his mercy. The greatest misdeed could have become the greatest act of mercy ever seen. Judas would have been an apostle like no other — evangelizing with a passion ignited with unbridled gratitude. We see it in St. Peter and St. Paul. It wasn’t to be with Judas because he never moved beyond regret.
No One is Perfect
Sometimes it’s hard being human. We can do such stupid things, but God gave us a path to wisdom. Jesus always waits for us, to comfort and strengthen.
When we get taken advantage of, well, it’s not our sin, but the goodness of our trust that was abused. If it was a matter of falling to sin, our human weakness prevailed at a time we failed to rely on God’s strength. No one is immune. The devil scored a victory in such case. Or did he? For when we turn to God, even the devil’s wins turn into losses. There’s no conversion story like one who regrets the past and now preaches a new life in Christ.
Regret should only be temporary—a way of dealing with our misstep. The mistake––far bigger than the original folly—would be to stay away from Jesus, in fear or shame. It would give the devil a victory over what should have only been wishful thinking on his part.
We are saved by Jesus. That which is against truth, wants us to turn from him. So crawl until you can walk again and walk until you can run to Jesus. He will lift you up on eagle’s wings, bear you on the breath of dawn, and make you to shine like the sun, and hold you in the palm of his hand.
Prayer for Screw-Ups
Dear Lord, I come before you, sinful and sorrowful. Forgive me for all the ways I turned from you.
I know your Divine Mercy is infinite, but I need help to forgive myself.
It has been too much of me and not enough of you in my life.
Help me to die to myself and fill up with you.
Thank you for this humiliation, Lord, because it has brought me closer to you. Please help me to use it to accomplish everything you have planned for my life.
And I pray for the wisdom, strength, and courage not to fall again, while still knowing that you will never tire of picking me back up.