Monday, April 20, 2009

"Woulda, Coulda, Shoulda"

The great baseball hitter Ted Williams said, "By the time you learn all that you need to know you are too old."

As we move through our life’s journey, particularly as a father, there is a tendency to live with regret over what we “woulda, coulda and shoulda” done. This regretful introspection is healthy if it leads us to some kind of action but it can be enslaving and lead us to a kind of despair if we are not careful.

As I have reflected upon this idea of regret it seems to me that this non-productive regret is fueled by some lies that, if we don’t confront head on, will continue to plague us, particularly as we have more of our earthly road in the rearview mirror than is before us.

Lie # 1 - “We see our pain as partly or fully caused by our own choices, which may be very true, BUT we believe there is no place for us to take that sorrow/pain/failure except upon ourselves.”

I think the textbook comparison of this is between Judas and Peter. Both failed miserably during the crisis of the cross of Christ. One could argue that Judas’ failure was greater than Peter’s as the Lord’s betrayer whereas Peter only "denied" Christ. That may be true but Judas was still not beyond recovery. He just refused to put his shame, his failure, and his regret in the very place that his betrayal helped to bring about—the cross of Christ. He knew his sin was so foul there was no way out but death. But he took his failure upon himself rather than going to the One who could forgive and restore by His own payment He made on his behalf.

Peter, on the other hand, was able to recover because he came to Jesus with his anguish. He was humbled from his pride and self-sufficiency and he went on to become a leader of the first century church. He found there was a place to go that would lead to hope when his own choices only caused deep regret.

As a husband and father I often think to myself, “If I knew then what I know now.” My youngest children are quickly leaving the nest and my oldest ones are busy establishing their lives outside of the home. My daughter Heidi and her husband Sky have two girls. My son Adam is out of college and busy finding his way in this challenging economy. As my children struggle with their choices, the enemy puts the lie in my face that says I didn’t adequately prepare them for what they are facing now.

The answer is, “Of course I didn’t, but I did the best I could at the time.” I can put my failures upon the cross of Christ. I can follow the example of Peter who learned to lean into his past failures and allow them to teach him dependence upon Christ, his Lord and his grace. For Peter, Christ became increasingly his heart’s desire and delight. He looked forward, not backward. And his hope-filled, glory-anticipating heart is what truly blessed all of those who would follow his example-even us today as we read his 2000 year old recorded letters to the church in our Bibles.

It is not about what you or I have done but it is about who we are right now by HIS grace and what He is making us to be throughout eternity for HIS glory.
Next week we will look at “Lie #2."

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Don said...

Great words, Jamie. I actually needed to hear that message today more than ever. My trying (attempts) is trying (taxing) on me. I'm struggling with not believing the lies of the enemy as I evaluate how my kids are handling the challenges of life. I'm "shoulding" all over myself these days and I need to stop. Thanks for the timely inspiration. Brother D.

Aaron said...

I too struggle with this issue. Coming from a divorced family, I wanted nothing more than to not repeat divorce in my life. Well, it takes two for that to come about. I have made more mistakes than I can count. I know this because I have spent countless nights counting. It just doesn't stop. Everyday seems to be a reminder of yesterday or of the mistakes I have made from way back. I believe for the day I accept me for me and realize the past is the past.