Is regret messing with your peace? Is it so painful that you’d like to erase a part of your past? Let’s look at regret — what it is, the two main types, and how to move toward restoration.
Regret is feeling sorrow or remorse for something you did or failed to do. Sometimes it turns into disappointment. This feeling of regret can be turned toward God as you seek him in your pain. Or it can become discontentment, even despair.
Discontentment is an ugly response to regret. It describes a person’s dissatisfaction with what God is doing in his life at the moment. She may have self-pity and see herself as the undeserving victim of unfair circumstances.
Regret Due to Human Error
Regret may result from an honest though awful mistake. Dr. Erwin Lutzer shared the story of a missionary airplane mechanic with an excellent service track record. One day while tightening a bolt, he was called away before he finished. He forgot to return and complete the bolt tightening.
The consequence of this one mistake proved disastrous. The plane took off. Gasoline leaked from the place where the bolt was loose. The plane caught on fire and all seven people on the plane died. Without a doubt, this mechanic wished he could erase the past. He feels deep regret.
Regret Caused on Purpose
This type of regret results when you choose a certain path that you know is wrong. The Holy Spirit impresses on your heart the your ugly choice rubs against God’s will but you continue on.
Think Peter the apostle.
He denied knowing Jesus Christ three times, then the rooster crows. Peter weeps tears of regret and emotional pain.
And immediately the rooster crowed a second time. And Peter remembered how Jesus had said to him, “Before the rooster crows twice, you will deny me three times.” And he broke down and wept. Mark 14:72, ESV
2 Steps to Restoration
1. Bring it into the open.
Pushing down the past smothers you. Did you know that the more you try not to think about the regret, the more focus you direct toward it?
God’s plan for moving forward requires facing the past and acknowledging the sin, the pain, and the fallout.
2. Move forward.
To move forward means forgiving, repeatedly if necessary, letting God deal with those who have sinned against you, and continuing to respond in a godly way regardless of how they behaved.
Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” Romans 12:19, ESV
When you choose God’s solutions, an upward and forward movement begins! It’s time, don’t you think, for a fresh start? Christ and His Word will move you in the right direction if you let Him!
Through the Lord’s mercies we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness. “The Lord is my portion,” says my soul, “Therefore I hope in Him!” Lamentations 3:22-24, ESV
Do you need help finding peace? I’d love to help you!
Sharing hope with your heart, I’ll provide you with solution-focused biblical counseling. Contact me today and we can set up an appointment in person or by Skype. (I’ve counseled women, couples, and families in five continents.) Check out more about me here.
Counseling Hearts to Hope,
Isn’t it true that addiction may look harmless?
Yet anything that enslaves you harms you. Thank God, He empowers you to overcome an addiction.
Hard work helps. Workaholism harms.
Eating good food — satisfying. Bingeing for comfort — sad.
Clothing your kids in cute outfits rocks. A shopping addiction hurts.
Driving her minivan to the mall, Karrie* told herself she’d buy only one outfit for her seven-year-old daughter. She had made this promise last week and broke it. “I can do it this time,” she pep-talked. Three hours and many shopping bags later, she collapsed on her couch and cried. “I can’t do anything right.” (*not her real name)
Her challenge? Overcoming an addiction by loving God most of all.
What’s an Addiction?
An addiction is a bondage of the heart and body to something that produces immediate pleasure or relief. This bondage becomes increasingly destructive over time. It rules the heart, promising the sensation of pleasure and the avoidance of pain.
Addictions have an object, such as:
- Ingested substance like food, alcohol, or pills;
- Possessions like a home, car, and even shoes.
Indulging in addiction brings short-term pleasure. But in the long term, the soul and body experience pain and decay. Relationships suffer. Bank accounts shrink. And the lie of “just one more” deceives.
If you think Christians are immune to addiction, think again Click & Tweet! . When our craving conflicts with Scripture, we don’t always live according to what we say we believe. Karrie says “Jesus is Lord” at church on Sunday, and on Monday she itches to shop. Her husband says he loves his wife yet views pornography.
This disconnect is described in Scripture. In Romans 1, the apostle Paul says,
“We all know many things about God and his law, but we suppress those truths when they interfere with our wants and desires,” writes Ed Welch in Addictions: A Banquet in the Grave.
“As a result, it is as if we practice two religions. We believe one thing, but really believe another. . .(that) we can make the laws we live by, not God.”
When you or I reject Christ’s rule, we become enslaved to something. We exchange the wonderful for the unholy because we want self-rule. The created thing enslaves us. We become cold to God.
How to Get Free
Most important to overcoming an addiction: Invite a stronger power to rule. Consider Jesus’ question,
Or how can anyone enter the strong man’s house and carry off his property, unless he first binds the strong man? Matthew 12:29
Here are two more important ways to overcoming addiction:
1. Pray to be mastered by nothing but the Lord and pursue knowing Christ.
2. Confess your sin and repent, or turn away from addiction. You cannot go half-way. You need to totally eradicate it.
His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness.” 1 Peter 1:3
Yet spiritual battles cannot be won alone. Addictions like to stay private. God invites people dealing with addictions of any sort to share their struggle with the church of Christ. The church is people who say Jesus is Savior and are growing in their love for God and one another.
Yes, the church is full of sinners. Yes, some churches have significant problems. But a Bible-believing group of believers will welcome the hurting and help them.
And some people struggling with addictions want the advantages of biblical counseling too.
If you’re interested in someone coming alongside you, listening to your story, and helping you find hope in Christ, please contact me or one of the vetted biblical counselors listed in Heart2Heart Counselor Directory.
For where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them. Matthew 18:20.
Blessings of hope for your heart,
Who doesn’t have ugly thoughts, at least once in a while? Good news: You can replace ugly thoughts with truthful thoughts and renew your mind. Here’s a tool for you.
So today you learn how to:
1. Identify an ugly thought you believe that’s true about you or your circumstance.
2. Recognize the link between your thoughts and your feelings and replace your ugly thought with a new thought.
3. See change in your emotions and actions as you renew your thoughts. A helpful tool is my Transform Your Thoughts Journal. See it here. Click & Tweet!
What’s better, this process has helped hundreds of my counselees renew their thinking. It is based on scripture verses like Romans 12:2 and Ephesians 4:22-24:
You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.
Step 1: Identify
First, on notebook paper, set up your categories like this:
UGLY THOUGHT. . .EMOTIONS. . .ACTIONS
Then under “Ugly Thought” write your current or recurring negative, ungodly thought. Then jot down the resulting emotions under “Emotions.” Now, list your behaviors under “Actions.” Here’s an example.
UGLY THOUGHT: “I’m stupid”
EMOTION(s): Anger, depression, loneliness
ACTION(s): Yell at the kids, slam the door, eat a bag of chips
Step 2: Replace
Now write three new categories. Under “Truthful Thought” replace the ugly thought with a biblical truth or a scripture verse. Then write the likely resulting feelings under “New Emotion” and likely behaviors under “New Action.” On your notebook paper set up your categories like this:
TRUTHFUL THOUGHT. . .NEW EMOTIONS. . .NEW ACTIONS
Here’s a corresponding example.
TRUTHFUL THOUGHT: God says all his works are wonderful, so this means I’m an okay person and He’ll help me.
NEW EMOTION(s): Contentment, courage
NEW ACTION(s): Hug the kids, smile, complete the job application
Step 3: See Change
Lastly, chart the ugly thoughts you believe, your emotions, and your actions daily. As soon as you recognize an ugly thought, replace it with a truthful thought. Click & Tweet! And ask God in prayer to help you believe his truth. As you stick with it, you’ll begin to see a change in your emotions and actions as you replace ugly thoughts with the truth. Please be patient and persevere.
You didn’t develop poor thinking patterns overnight. In fact, they may have begun in childhood and are ingrained in your thinking. And so it’ll take weeks, sometimes months, as you to cooperate with the Holy Spirit in the renewing of your mind. Have hope. You CAN do it with God’s help.
Question: What is truthful thought you’d like to have in place of an ugly thought?
Counseling Hope to Your Heart,
Don’t like journaling? No problem. Draw or doodle bits of your story. I’ll give you a prompt in a sec.
Did you know writing and drawing are healing? All you need is a pen or pencils and paper. Remember you’re writing only for yourself, your healing.
A couple decades ago, when I sought counseling for a childhood emotional wound, journaling gave me an outlet, a way to put my pain on paper, to write where I hurt. Through writing my real I discovered the lies I told myself — such as, “You’re defective” — and began replacing them with the truth: God values me. I used a journal method like this one.
Once I made three-dimensional art: first a drawing, then I singed the edges of the paper, and finally put it int a Ziplock baggie. Each step of this artsy journaling had meaning and helped me understand my anger and the thoughts fueling it.
Are you ready to try writing/drawimg to heal?
The writing/drawing prompt: What is your “God Chose Me” story? This chosen story describes your experience of saying, “Yes, God. I will serve your Son.”
He snagged me at the library. Where did God first meet you?
A life problem–it could be anything–may bump you hard, tempting you to doubt your own salvation. You may think, Am I really saved? By putting your chosen story on paper, you have a physical reminder that God is with you. You can review your story at any time, bubbling up joy in your heart.
1. Decide if you’ll write or draw your story. If writing, use lined paper or a journal. If drawing, use a plain paper without lines. The size is your choice.
2. Your chosen story has three main parts: before Jesus was your Savior, when Jesus became your Savior, after Jesus became your Savior. Just think: Before, When, After.
Pray and ask Jesus what He wants you to say in word or picture. Don’t worry if it’s good enough. Let him take over the process. And write where it hurts.
Counseling Hope to Your Heart,