When I was in high school, I was very sarcastic. OK—I’m still pretty sarcastic, but over the years, I’ve learned how to be a little less abrasive with my words. It’s something I’m still working on. But when I was 17, I was at a party, and a friend and I started to burn one another. It was funny at first, just lighthearted insults we both laughed off. But as is often the case, the digs got more and more personal. I should have let her have the last one, but I couldn’t resist, and of course I had to take it to a whole new level. I said something horrible that brought her to tears. That is one of my biggest regrets in life, or at least it was at that point.
If only we had an advance warning of our regrets, then maybe we could avoid them. Perhaps even without a warning, we can. As I’ve listened to people who have gone before me, older and wiser, I’ve tried to listen to their regrets and learn from their mistakes. The following is a compilation of the things I’ve heard them say they would have done differently if they had the chance. Here are 5 of the biggest regrets in life.
1. Always Playing It Safe
One of the worst feelings is wondering what life might have been like if we had enough courage to take a shot. If only we had pursued a dream, put our reputation on the line for something we believed in, or took a stand instead of going along with the crowd. Where do you need to take some risks?Taking the low road stains our own dignity and lowers the quality of our character.
2. Taking the Low Road
There’s a saying that goes something like, “When you throw mud at others, not only do you get dirty, but you lose a lot of ground.” It may make you feel good in the short run, but taking the low road stains our own dignity and lowers the quality of our character.
3. Not Telling People How You Feel
The last conversation I had with my dad was on the phone. His mother, my grandmother, had just died. I fumbled my way through the conversation, not knowing what to say. I couldn’t wait to be with him to have a redo. That redo never came. He passed away that week, before I had the chance. Don’t miss the chance to tell people how you feel. Is there something you need to say to someone?
4. Holding On to Anger
Living in negativity takes a toll on our mental health. It leaves us feeling exhausted and drained. James 4:14 says, “What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.” Life is short and our lives are fuller when we let go of our anger, choosing instead to forgive and love. Is there something you’re angry about that you need to let go? Is there someone you need to forgive?
5. Choosing Comfort Over Sacrifice
The most significant contributions we make involve sacrifice. If we want to make an impact, we need to sacrifice our time and energy or put our own desires and comfort aside. Most if not all of us crave comfort. And comfort is easy and unchallenging, but no growth or greatness comes from it. There’s no opportunity to leave a mark. The last thing we want to do is look back at our lives and wish we had braved discomfort and made sacrifices for something powerful.
If we’ve given everything we’ve got and it hasn’t worked or we are in a toxic situation, then it’s wise to pack it in and walk away. But when we quit just because things get difficult, we deprive ourselves of the opportunity to overcome obstacles. Sticking with it builds character and resiliency.
7. Not Considering God
There are some big questions we all need to face: Where did we come from? How did we get here? Are we a cosmic accident, or were we made by God? Is there possibly some other answer? If we are made by God, what type of God are we talking about? If God doesn’t exist and we ignore these questions, there won’t be any repercussions. But if He does exist, then we will miss out on something great. As Zephaniah 3:17 says, “The Lord your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love.” God has the capacity to enrich our lives. Isn’t that worth pursuing?
Sound off: What do you think are the biggest regrets in life?
Huddle Up Question
Huddle up with your kids and ask, “What is one thing you regret?”