While on vacation Matt told me about an article he had read, written by someone who regretted saving herself, her virginity, for marriage. And I laughed and said that was the dumbest thing I’d ever heard. I read her article. And my heart breaks for the bad theology she was raised in and for the broken religion she was taught because, based on her post, so much of it is so far from the gospel of grace that Jesus lived. And as a church we have so far to go to teach our young people that purity matters but it does not define us and that we stay pure because we trust that the God who made us really does know what is best for us, not because of pride or fear or shame. And this morning I read Ann’s words on why to wait and they were beauty and grace.
On that same vacation I read Just 18 Summers and pondered the caricatured pressure, anxiety, and regret these families lived with and how they were an over-stated reflection of what so many of us feel and it seems to me that Satan has two primary tactics in which he wages war – pride and regret. And while the book and the article are unrelated, the messages of pride and regret go hand-in-hand.
We wear our pride and think we could never make those bad choices, do those awful things – never have sex outside of marriage, never drink too much, smoke, do drugs, yell at our parents / spouse / children. Because we’re good people, rule followers, righteous, and we just.don’t.do.that. Until we do. We fall and we stumble and we sin and we wake up in the dirt and mess of our own choices. And while all can be forgiven, none can be undone. And regret climbs on like a weight we can’t put down and it follows everywhere like an ugly shadow.
Or our pride keeps us on edge, trying to put forth an image, make us something we know we’re really not – pulled together, controlled, prepared, practically perfect in every way. Until we realize we’re not. And we see the time that was wasted pretending when we could have been living real. And our heart breaks for the relationships lost and broken while chasing the wind.
And I know regret well. I can’t fathom regretting saving oneself for marriage. It just doesn’t register. But I can I understand the feelings of how is this suddenly okay, when it’s never been okay before. I get that. But giving away pieces of one’s soul in the name of being more at ease on your wedding night seems counter-productive. But I know Satan will use any method to keep us from experiencing the fullness of God’s love, even to the point of making someone regret trusting His word. And I have bags full of stuff I could carry around and regret from my pre-marriage life, but I’ve never been a big fan of living with regret and I see how those things shaped me and changed me and life carries on because God is bigger than all of it. And while my pride was totally stripped, regret never really haunted me.
Until I became a mother. And the thought of how my singular influence could so shape a life and that latent perfectionist within has never been able to handle the pressure and Satan found a way to saddle me with that burden of regret early and I daily have to lay it down. The things that should have been said differently, or not said, or should have been said that weren’t. The time that should have been used more wisely. The snuggles I skipped, the stories we didn’t read, the encouragement I didn’t give to my husband or children. And the hours I could spend focusing on what didn’t happen…..that’s when Satan wins a victory. Oh, I could invest so much time and energy into what could have been but what would be the point? I cannot go back. I don’t intend to have more babies just so I can try again. God has given me this one marriage and these five girls. He’s given me eyes to see where we need to go, not just what we missed in the past. I can’t go back and re-do any of it. But I can make the most of now – being present, being available, being real.
And I think this concept of regret is a fairly Western, 21st century problem. I don’t imagine my grandparents or great-grandparents or yours sitting around the fire at night lamenting all the “quality time” and “experiences” their children didn’t get. They didn’t feel pressured to provide swimming pools or elaborate fire pits or elite sports teams or study abroad opportunities to make their lives full. They lived their one life the best they could. They loved, cared, and provided for their families the best they knew how. Our generation has the luxury of worrying about the quality of time we spend with each other or activities we are involved in and we’re killing ourselves because of it.
There are so many many things that could have been done differently. I don’t want to spend this one life looking back wishing for a do-over. I want to look ahead with hope and joyful anticipation of all that God can make out of the ashes of a messed up past. He makes beautiful things….
For His Glory ~
*image source – Pinterest; original source unknown