The Freedom of Releasing Regrets
“Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death.” 2 Corinthians 7:10 (NIV)
“Time’s up!” Those two words battered my heart over and over as I sat in the silence of an empty nest, drowning in the pain of regrets.
I had thought I’d break into celebration when our two boys headed out into the world on their own. Even though I knew I’d miss them terribly, they were going to good places with spiritual growth as a priority, decision-making skills intact and solid friendships to encourage them … mostly.
I agonized over how I should have done more to fill every gap. I should have prayed more, taught more about Scripture and instructed more concerning finances. I convinced myself I should have stopped to listen more, been present more (instead of consumed with my to‑do list) and empathized more.
Instead of celebrating our boys’ launch into adulthood, I was sinking into despair, but I knew I shouldn’t allow regrets to reign.
Based on past experience, I knew regret would be erosive and paralyzing — washing away my confidence in God and myself. I knew what it would be like to feel powerless to live in the victory and freedom God has for us. Too many times I’d collapsed under the weight of imperfections, mistakes and sin.
Thankfully the Bible, our manual for life, has instructions about how to rid ourselves of regret. As we see in today’s key verse, “Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death” (2 Corinthians 7:10).
This verse helped me assess the situation. Are my sorrows (or regrets) leading to salvation and an eventual release from the regret? Or are they leading to death, a dark place where there’s no freedom in sight? For me, I knew my parenting regrets were of the worldly type because I was in a downward spiral.
One silent morning, after several days of wrestling with regret, I spent time with God, telling Him about my sadness and worry that I had fallen short as a mom. One by one, I took my regrets to Jesus and left them in His care.
With time He brought me to a place of asking Him for forgiveness. Where there were places of sin, I repented. Turning away from those sins was a step that left me feeling washed clean. With others, He showed me how my imperfect parenting had still been enough. God was much gentler with me than I was with myself! For each regret, He promised that His work would succeed where mine had failed and that He would complete what I had left unfinished.
I walked away from my time with God that morning with exactly what He said in His Word — the hope of salvation and a release from regrets. I rested in the truth that His power floods in to fill our gaps. He offers that same relief to you, no matter where your sorrow lies.
Are you worried you haven’t parented well enough? God is still at work in our children’s lives, even after they become adults. Their story isn’t over, and God is big enough to finish the work He started in our hearts and homes.
Are you swamped with shame from your past? God offers salvation today for every circumstance in our rear-view mirror. That door didn’t close the moment we wandered. He is able to soothe our sorrows.
Are you fretting over lost opportunities? Our good God redeems our misses and can fill our lives with second chances. Let’s trade our despair for hope today!
Lord, we come to You needing release from regrets. Instead of wallowing in despair, help us trust in Your powerful, ongoing work. Instead of agonizing over our imperfections, help us look to You for perfecting. In all things, help us turn our regrets over to You, our Redeemer. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
TRUTH FOR TODAY:
Psalm 116:3b-5a,6, “I was overcome by distress and sorrow. Then I called on the name of the LORD: ‘LORD, save me!’ The LORD is gracious and righteous; The LORD protects the unwary; when I was brought low, he saved me.” (NIV)
REFLECT AND RESPOND:
What regrets in your life have paralyzed you in their grip?
Bring those regrets to the Lord in prayer. Ask Him to show you:
- What needs His forgiveness?
- What needs His comfort?
Write out a prayer asking God to release you from your regrets and to move forward in complete trust in His work.