We all have past actions—past sins—we regret.
We may have spent considerable time reprimanding ourselves.
We may still be stuck in that past sin.
Regretting sin is a good thing if it leads to godly sorrow, repentance, and determination to follow the Lord. (See, for example, 2 Corinthians 7).
But it is not a good thing to be stuck.
What to do
Clean up the mess as best you can.
Try to resolve the hurt you caused someone else.
Correct, with the Lord’s help, your underlying issues that led to the sin.
Resolve to not repeat the sin.
Determine, going forward, to walk in newness of life (Romans 6:4).
There is a wonderful story by Arthur Gordon about the roadblock of regret. He writes of seeing a dear friend, an eminent psychiatrist, and telling him about causing the failure of an important project. The dear friend, whom he called the Old Man, told him he was using the poison phrase: “If only.” “If only I hadn’t…”
“The trouble with if only,” [the Old Man] said, “is that it doesn’t change anything. If keeps the person facing the wrong way—backward instead of forward. It wastes time. In the end, if you let it become a habit, it can become a real roadblock—an excuse for not trying anymore…
[The remedy is to] “shift the focus…Change the key words and substitute a phrase that supplies lift instead of creating drag…Strike out the words ‘if only’; substitute the phrase next time….
“As long as a patient keeps saying if only to me, he’s in trouble. But when he looks me in the eye and says next time, I know he is on the way to overcoming his problem. It means he has decided to apply the lessons he has learned from his experience, however grim or painful it may have been. It means he’s going to push aside the roadblock of regret, move forward, take action, resume living.”
Questions for you (and me)
Are you—am I—stuck in the past because of a failure, a sin?
Have you—have I—repented? Tried to make it right? Worked not to repeat the sin?
Are you—am I—looking forward to what God has for us, determined to walk in His way?
Are you—am I—thinking “Next time?”
Arthur Gordon, “The Roadblock of Regret,” in A Touch of Wonder: Staying in Love with Life (Grand Rapids, Michigan. Fleming H. Revell, 1974 77-78
In Kristin Snyder, When Storms Come: Will You Be Ready?