Hurt & Faith, Restoration

maintaining regret

broken wagon in a field of daisies — Russell Lee, June 1939

Today my head is consumed with fires.

With the passing of my favorite screenwriter.

With seminars and webinars from successful authors.

With a plea for this Puget Sound summer to begin in earnest.

There is no time to sort these thoughts. To weave them.

There is work, and breakfast, and a lesson, and appointments, and insurance calls. There are phone messages, email messages and facebook messages to return. Friends to see. Children to love. A house to clean. Meals to plan. Shopping to do.

I want 5 a.m. back. To rise early and greet the day.

I want 6 a.m. back. To read alone in the quiet. To pray.

I want 7 a.m. back. To undistractedly answer my husband’s phone call. To listen.

But the hours will not return to me. They are gone. It is useless for me to mourn them. To waste precious minutes in a busy day.

* * * * *

What would I take from this house if raging wildfire forced me to leave?

Five minutes? I would spin — overwhelmed. (I’m not the most level headed in crisis.) The time is too short.

I would take only what matters: a man and four children.

Thirty minutes? I would grab the memories because my mind is full of today and I would forget all of yesterday without them.

The journals. The letters. The hard drive.The photos — conveniently still in boxes.

When we were away from danger, I would hold my family tight. Grateful to be alive and together.

. . . but, eventually, the years would provoke me with regret.

Why didn’t I stay awake and watch for the flames? Why didn’t I grab the box of videos? Why didn’t we take both cars? Why did we even buy that house?

My heart would remind me: you survived. You. Your husband. Your kids. Let go.

* * * * *

But we do this. This mourning the past. This regretting. 

We regret until we are unable to move. To sort thoughts. To be present.

We wonder had I drawn the line years ago, could I have prevented this grief? Had I noticed . . . Had I stopped . . .

But it is useless.

We cannot add a single day to our lives. We cannot add a single cubit to our height.

Still, regret persists. Insists on consuming.

I should have been there. I should have told someone. I should have prayed more.

Years wasted in hurt, in hiding, in shame.

Daily, our failure is before us. The mess. The debt. The disappointment.

Discouragement burns, fueled by regret.

My heart reminds me: You survived this fiery trial. This addiction. This shame. Why are you destroying today by regretting the yesterday you cannot change?

I remember my affliction and my wandering, the bitterness and the gall. I well remember them, and my soul is downcast within me. Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope: Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning. Lamentations 3:19-23

I will have another chance at 5 a.m. tomorrow.

To pray. To write. To work. To love. To be.

And if tomorrow never comes, and I pass into eternity, I will not hold tight to regrets and take them with me.

I can’t take them with me.

I know this. In my soul. I know it. The years are what they have been.

Hardship. Loneliness. Hurt.

But it isn’t hopeless. We are together. We sift through the ashes and find beauty:

Love that endures all things.

The love of Jesus. A love we are learning.

We are His portion and He is our prize
Drawn to redemption by the grace in His eyes
If grace is an ocean, we’re all sinking
So Heaven meets earth like an unforeseen kiss
And my heart turns violently inside of my chest
I don’t have time to maintain these regrets
When I think about the way — He loves us. Oh how He loves us.” — David Crowder