Graphic Butterfly with Cross Shadow background

—Dr. Sam Smith is the organizer of Butterfly Ministries and can be reached at ssmithkate@aol.com.

“I wish I hadn’t done that” “If I would have only done this.” “What was I thinking?” “If I had it to do over again…”

Do any of these phrases sound familiar? How many times have you said them?

The past can be a burdensome companion. We are told to learn from our mistakes. That is definitely good advice, but once we have learned from them, we need to let them go. We all have regrets from our past. If you do not, please give me a call. I would love to know someone who has lived a life without regrets from the past. However, we cannot let those regrets from the past override the present. Regrets are excess baggage that only hold us down and steal our peace and joy in the now. Someone said that we should live in “day-tight compartments”. Not a bad way to put it.

The Bible has something to say about this. “Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past.” [Isaiah 43:18] Our only hope for true peace in this life is to learn to trust that God is in complete control of everything. He has given us free will, and He knows we will make mistakes. Some of those mistakes [or maybe all of them] can carry valuable lessons with them, and we can learn and grow from them. But He told us “Do not dwell on the past” for a very good reason. Regrets and worry over past mistakes keep us from enjoying today and from serving Him with joy. Jesus taught us not to worry. In Matthew 6, He had quite a bit to say about it. In verse 27 He asked, “Who of you by worrying can add a single say to his life?”

We all have things from our past that can weigh us down if we allow them to. Psychologist’s and psychiatrist’s offices are busy as they try to help patients overcome the ill effects of their pasts. They are trying to get them to understand the very thing that Isaiah heard from God. “Do not dwell on the past.” Of course that is much easier to say than to do, but with God it can be done. Knowing that God has forgiven and forgotten our past mistakes once we have accepted Christ and asked for forgiveness is the most powerful way to overcome our past. Guilt is a detrimental by-product of regrets over past mistakes and sins. We yearn for forgiveness for our past. Too many times we cannot get the forgiveness from those we feel we have wronged. But that does not mean we cannot receive forgiveness. We can receive forgiveness from the One that matters most – the One who can heal us from the guilt and regrets that burden us. And once we truly accept that forgiveness, we can experience the great relief that comes from forgiving ourselves.

You have come so far, do not turn around.

There is no need looking back.

That part of your journey is over now.

The past is all behind you, and that’s where it needs to stay

Choose your way and look forward now.

You can lose all your tomorrows in wish-I-would-have dreams

The paths you did not take weren’t meant for you

This much of the puzzle of your life is now complete

All the pieces fit as they were meant to do

You are so much nearer heaven today than yesterday

How you complete the journey is up to you

Regrets are excess baggage, only in your way

Carrying the past will only hold you down

Let it go, you are glory bound

[From “So Much Nearer Heaven” by Sam Smith [Me]

When regrets from the past begin to weigh you down, remind yourself that you are on a journey to eternal life in heaven. If you have accepted Jesus as your Savior, your sins have been forgiven – and forgotten, and the Holy Spirit is with you. Trust in that truth and pray for the ability to forgive yourself and put the past where it belongs — in God’s hands. – and free yourself from regret.

“Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret…”

[2 Corinthians 7:10]

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—Dr. Sam Smith is the organizer of Butterfly Ministries and can be reached at ssmithkate@aol.com.