I came across this quote today and it caused me pause:
"The pain of regret in the end game is worse than the pain of obedience initially."
Isn't that just the truth, though? Obedience can be painful, it can cost you something, and some times that cost is high, but isn't it so much better than the regret that you're stuck with if you willingly choose not to obey in the first place? I've seen this lived out more in the past couple years of my life than ever before. I've watched as several people's disobedience has caused this path of brokenness and regret and excuses and pain, and I have to believe the initial "hard" of the obedience would have been the lesser of the evils. It brings to mind Romans 7:15 "I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do." We're all guilty of this, Lord knows I'm not immune, but the older I get I find I do better. This isn't me tooting my own horn, but I rarely say something I regret, I just don't. I think long and hard before I speak and I speak with intention and honesty, I'm not saying I don't feel badly for the ways in which I say things that can be hurtful - that I can apologize for all day long, but it is rare when I apologize for something I've said because I genuinely think before I speak and I mean what I say and I say what I mean. This has come with age, time, wisdom, practicing the fruits of self-control, and honestly, not wanting to have to apologize. Don't misunderstand me here, I'm ALL for apologizing when I'm wrong, in fact, I really appreciate the freedom the words "I'm so sorry, I was wrong" bring. But if you think before you speak, and you do the right thing the first time, you'll find you don't need to apologize as often because you're living intentionally, and there's a lot of value in that. No one likes to be wrong, myself included, but if you live long enough we're all gonna be that person -that, once again, is part of the human experience. The real "deal" if you will is what you do when you are wrong, when you weren't obedient the first go around, when you didn't do the right thing in the moment and the moment slips away. I guess the first part of the deal is the admission that you didn't do the right thing, and often that can be hard to see/ascertain, but once you get there -then what? (I feel like I started this blog post in one direction and am ending up somewhere else but I'm just gonna roll with it). I was talking to a friend of mine several months ago, back in CA, and she was talking about how she felt like her parents generation didn't learn how to apologize properly, and I found this so interesting, to think of the 'art of apologizing' as a generational gap (I'm not saying this is true, just an interesting thought that hadn't occurred to me prior). The more she spoke the more I could relate, I could relate to the idea of people dancing around an apology and using language like "I may have overstepped" or "I guess I can see how this might have..." all these words that people use instead of owning their crap and just saying "I was wrong, I shouldn't have done X, can you please forgive me?" There is power in the words "I was wrong" -it does something to people, it puts the offended's "hackles down" and puts the offender in a place of submission, those are good things!! AND its ownership, there is such value in owning your crap, in claiming it and admitting wholeheartedly that you messed up. There is freedom there, for all involved.
At Young Life camps, at the end of the week we have "say so" night, its an opportunity for students who have made a decision to follow Christ to stand up and "say so" -to confess they are a new creation, that they are choosing to not live for themselves but for Jesus. I love say so night, I always get chills hearing these precious student's stories and it reminds me why I pour into people and do youth ministry -that's the good stuff of life. My point is this, there is something to be said for the power of just saying so. If you have wronged someone: SAY SO, if you owe someone an apology: SAY SO, if you haven't been obedient to what you know is the right thing and you've used every excuse in the book as to why you haven't done the right thing: SAY SO, if you were wrong and you need to confess: SAY SO, if you are broken and need some redemption: SAY SO. Obedience may cost you something, but it is assuredly better than the regret of silence. Jesus would and did and does say something, so if you're looking for an example, that's where I'd start. xo
Each week our church sends out a newsletter called "In the Life of the Church" -this past week's has a blog written by our pastor called "The Importance of Owning a Mistake" and I'm sharing the link HERE - seems fitting.