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,
Anger: Some women bottle it up; others let it blow. The important question: What’s the best way to handle anger?
You’ve experienced anger, haven’t you? We all have. The reasons for anger outnumber summer dandelions. Like a dandelion, it has a root. Just as weeding can rid dandelions from your yard, you can learn the best way to let go of your anger.
In this article, you’ll get these two practical helps to grow hope in your soul:
- Identify 3 main reasons for anger.
- Discover the how to zap anger at its root.
The last thing you want is a place for the devil. The word devil come from the Greek diabolos, which means “one who makes malicious false statements; a false accuser; a slanderer.” It is the a title for Satan.
His main goal is to deceive people, including Christians. He wants to convince you to reject the truth and believe lies.
‘In your anger do not sin.’ Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold. (Ephesians 4:26-27, NIV)
Reasons for Anger
Hurt: Tami’s husband is MIA — “in the worst way,” she says. “He’s here but not here. I’m so hurt I could scream.” After dinner, he disappears into his man cave, where he reclines in a La-Z-Boy and flips cable channels. He has next-to-know conversation with Tami or their two young school-aged children during the evening. She cleans up after dinner, helps with homework, and gets them ready for bed — and seethes.
A normal response to a hurt is anger. When hurt, do you stuff your anger? Do you yell or slam doors?
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Lack of control. When your life gets squirmy, you may feel out of control and angry.
“What are you? Stupid?” Suzanne yelled into her cell. Her teenage son had forgotten to pick up his little brothers from soccer practice. A single mom, she depends on her eldest for help. Her mocking putdown reveals her feelings of lack of control. She didn’t get what she wanted so she got angry.
Can you think something you got that you didn’t want? Perhaps a parking ticket? A poor performance review? A snub from a friend? What was your emotion?
Godly indignation. Sometimes — but not often, if we’re honest — you and I feel anger when we hate what God hates. God hates hypocrisy. He hates evil. God hates the trafficking of children. God experiences anger yet never sins. His anger is holy.
Here’s a scene in the Bible where Jesus displays anger:
Jesus goes into the synagogue on a Sabbath where there were Pharisees and a man with a withered hand and “looked around at them [the Pharisees] in anger and, deeply distressed at their stubborn hearts, said to the man, ‘Stretch out your hand.’ He stretched it out, and his hand was completely restored. Then the Pharisees went out and began to plot with the Herodians how they might kill Jesus” (Mark 5:6).
What’s something you hate that God hates? Does it make you angry? This is godly indignation.
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How to Kill Anger
Hold on to your godly indignation and let it propel you to good — this is holy anger. My husband and I hate the suffering of families in poverty. Our anger has led us to support a child through World Vision and to organize a food drive to stock a local food pantry. But. . .
Uproot ungodly anger. It ends up hurting you and the people around you.
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It also grieves the Spirit (Ephesians 4:30).
Unresolved anger can become bitterness that poisons your relationships and you. The sure “cure” for anger is forgiveness. Let’s look at forgiveness from two angles.
When you’ve been wronged, you can become angry and sin. Or you can choose forgiveness. Forgiveness isn’t easy. It costs you. It cost God (Colossians 3:13). When you forgive someone, you no longer hold the person’s sin against them. Forgiving doesn’t excuse their behavior or pretends the wrong never happened. However, you choose to let it go.
Your also deal with your hurt in a godly manner. It is wise for Tami and Suzanne to seek God’s perspective and determine to obey the Word in spite of how they feel. Both women need to speak the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15) to their family members.
Tami could let her husband know how his disappearing act hurts her and the family. She can be confident that God will work in her husband’s heart, convicting him of his need to ask forgiveness (2 Timothy 3:16). Suzanne could lovingly remind her son that she counts on him to help out and if he’s unable to follow through on his commitment than he needs to let her know so she can make alternate arrangements.
In addition, Tami needs to ask her husband’s forgiveness. She has anger toward her husband that she need to confess. Suzanne needs to ask her son’s forgiveness too. Angry words cut like a knife.
My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry. (James 1:19)
Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. (Colossians 3:13)
3 Parts of a Message
Did you know that the words you say are just one part of your communication? Your body language and your tone of voice make up a far larger part of your message than your words. Would you believe that they account for more than 90 percent of your message? This is an essential you need to know — that I need to remember too — in all of our relationships.
Please subscribe to my blog so you don’t miss it! When you subscribe you also will get a complimentary e-Book on your indentity in Christ. Also, order the quick download “7 Steps to Putting the Past in the Past. . .and Keeping It There.”
Sharing hope with your heart,
CONFLICT: No one likes it but it is impossible to avoid! So what’s the solution? In this post by guest writer and counselor Ellen Castillo, you’ll discover six steps to peacemaking. By the way, peacemaking is NOT peacekeeping. Big difference!
Her article appeared first here on her website and is used with permission. Ellen also listed here on Heart2Heart Counselor Directory.
Conflict. It’s one of those words that makes us cringe and shrink back in denial and fear.
Too often our gut reaction when someone confronts us with an offense is to defend ourselves. Even if we were in the wrong, we tend to want to cover it up. (That is nothing new, read about Adam and Eve!) We try to justify ourselves, blame someone else, avoid the problem, and the list goes on. We stand ready with excuses in hand, armed for the battle, fully intending to win it.
God offers us a better way. He offers us the way of grace. He extends grace to us and we are to extend it to others. The Bible is very clear regarding how we are to respond to conflict. We can draw from Scripture these
Six practical steps to use when we face conflict:
1. Remove the log.
You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye. Matthew 7:5
Before you engage in any discussion that will involve pointing out another’s sin, be sure that you have prepared your heart. In order to enter that conversation with proper motives and a forgiving attitude, you will need to admit your own failure in the relationship, acknowledge your own sin issues, and take responsibility for your part in the conflict. It takes two to have a conflict and rarely is there only one guilty party.
Confess, repent, admit, and seek forgiveness. Only then are you able to have the right motives for confronting someone with the goal of reconciliation.
2. Admit weakness and failure.
Whoever conceals his transgressions will not prosper, but he who confesses and forsakes them will obtain mercy. Proverbs 28:13
Again, own up to your part in the conflict. You need God’s mercy as much as the other person. Total honesty prepares your heart and presents your case in a way that is much more likely to be received.
This is the way of humility. Pride in your heart will hinder reconciliation. Humility opens the doors of communication that can lead to reconciliation.
3. Don’t promise to do better next time.
But above all, my brothers, do not swear, either by heaven or by earth or by any other oath, but let your “yes” be yes and your “no” be no, so that you may not fall under condemnation. James 5:12
The truth is, you will fail again. You are a sinner and so am I.
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We can seek God to help us to deal with our relationships in a godly manner but we will never achieve perfection. Sin has messed up that possibility. You can ask for help, accountability, and avail yourself to some input. But you cannot promise to “do better” because you probably won’t.
God’s grace is sufficient for that. We are to have integrity (let our yes be yes) but there are consequences to making a promise that we cannot keep.
4. Grant grace no matter who is in the wrong.
Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. Ephesians 4:31
Approaching a guilty sinner with an attitude of grace is critical to the healing of conflict. You, too, are a guilty sinner. It is a level playing field at the foot of the cross. We tend to forget that when we are ready to win a battle in conflict. It is easy to believe we are the innocent party as we aim to accuse and admonish someone. Whether that person has truly sinned and needs to repent or not, grace in your approach is critical and healing.
5. Offer solutions, not accusations.
All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness. 2 Timothy 3:16
In order to reconcile, we need to do more than simply pointing out the problem that brought conflict. Reconciliation is only possible when there is a plan put in place to work towards rebuilding relationship
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. That plan will be useful only if it is based on God’s Word. God’s Word has the answers to our relationship struggles.
An excellent resource for how to resolve conflict biblically is the Peacemaker ministries (founded by Ken Sande.) There you will find biblical solutions to conflict that are not only rooted in biblical principles but also practical in nature and ready to be put in to practice.
6. Purpose to be reconciled.
Better yet, to be restored to full relationship.
If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Romans 12:18
This verse speaks for itself. Do whatever you possibly can to reconcile a conflict. If the other person does not reciprocate, that is not your responsibility. They are responsible for their own sin, and you are responsible only for yours. At the end of the day, have you done everything you can to resolve conflict?
God has called us to be peacemakers, not peacekeepers.
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Peacekeepers want to avoid conflict, and will do whatever it takes to do so.
Peacemakers want to resolve conflict, and will do whatever God’s Word teaches to do so.
Scripture teaches peacemaking, not peacekeeping!
Reconciliation between believers is a picture of The Gospel. If we keep this in mind and remember it is not about us, but it is about glorifying God, we will be more motivated to reconcile. When we reconcile with people, we are also reconciled to God Himself.
All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation. 2 Corinthians 5:18
Is there a conflict in one of your relationships? If so, take Romans 12:18 to heart and become a peacemaker today.
Sharing Hope with Your Heart,
Christian cliches make you cringe, don’t they? Here are 5 Christians cliche identified by today’s guest writer Marie Notcheva, a featured counselor in Heart2Heart Counselor Directory. A certified counselor and author, Marie specializes in helping women and girls who have eating disorders, which she overcame through biblical counseling. Her article appeared first here on her website and is used with permission.
In biblical counseling, as in all forms of Christian ministry, we are called to exhort and encourage; listen and learn; love and give hope. Sometimes, however, words can hurt rather than heal. Although a counselor, friend, small-group leader or pastor may say something with the best of intentions, falling back on platitudes or Christian clichés can sometimes cause more harm than good to the listener.
Based on my experience as a biblical counselor and conversations with other women, I have identified five of the most damaging Christian cliches that have made their way into the counseling room. Over the years, I have heard all of these used, and while I understand the intent behind them, they make me cringe.
1. “In order to feel good, you must DO good.”
This is an old maxim of biblical counseling, often said to depressed counselees who find themselves in a rut. The problem is that it’s often not true, and usually adds to the counselee’s guilt and self-recrimination.
A better approach? Get to the source of her depression.
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A woman who is depressed because of a verbally abusive husband will not be helped by this phrase. She very likely is already “doing good things” to the point of burnout, to no avail. Is the counselee depressed because of a death? Telling her to get her act together and wash the dishes will not help.
The phrase implies that laziness is partially responsible for the depression, which is a dangerous assumption to make.
2. “How can I/we come alongside you?”
This is a Christian cliché that is so vague it is usually impossible to answer. Say what you mean. Perhaps make a suggestion: “I’ll show up at your place at 11 a.m., do your laundry, and take you out to lunch. You could use a break!”
Or, “Now that I know your family is struggling financially, let’s talk to the elders about getting a scholarship for your son to go to youth
camp. By the way, there’s a fund in place to help pay heating bills for folks going through a rough patch.”
The “coming alongside” offer can also be a thinly veiled but heavy-handed way of saying, “I’m going to interfere in this very private matter you’ve divulged to me, whether you consent or not.” Don’t spiritualize your offer of involvement. Spell it out, and respectfully ask the counselee, friend, or parishioner for permission.
3. “You have a very low view of Scripture (or Christ, or God).”
This is usually a callous way of dismissing what the other person is saying, simply because you don’t agree with it. It is presumptuous in the extreme to assume you know her heart on such matters, and it is lazy counseling.
If a counselee or member is attending an evangelical church of any stripe, and especially if she is seeking out counseling, it is safe to take her at her word that she believes in the inerrancy of Scripture. It is doubtful that she has a low view of Christ, and to tell her this is confusing and hurtful.
One woman I counseled several years ago had been told at her prior church that she had a low view of God, because she had taken a tough-love approach to her son’s drug addiction. Although I don’t know the woman’s pastor, I have counseled addicts enough to know that she took appropriate steps – and indeed had a very high view of God.
If you don’t agree that the individual’s conclusion is biblical, do some research. It’s probably a matter of interpretation and you, as the biblical counselor, probably have the benefit of exegetical training. Engage the question; look at different angles and commentaries; reason together.
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Never dismiss her by telling her she has a low view of Scripture/God/Christ. Such sweeping statements are designed to be conversation-stoppers, and have no place in the counseling room.
4. “Stop carrying around a root of bitterness/bitter spirit.”
This one is tricky, because it’s clearly a biblical warning. Bitterness is a sin, which ultimately destroys a person spiritually. The author of Hebrews cautions against letting such a spirit grow up within the Body, because it “corrupts many” (Hebrews 12:15). We see this all the time in the fallout of church splits, in the gossip and hard feelings that are left in its wake.
The problem here is being careful not to lump every angry emotion into this category, and gloss over it with this verse. This approach is what has given nouthetic counselors the reputation of “throwing the Bible at people” or a “take one verse and call me in the morning” attitude.
Having hurt feelings or struggling to forgive someone who has seriously wronged you is not bitterness. Often, counselors and pastors make the mistake of rebuking wounded believers for “bitterness” before they’ve even had a chance to start healing.
At that point, what hurting people need is to be listened to; have their experience validated; have the wrong of what was done to them validated. Then you can begin to help them work through the process of forgiveness. Bitterness is a heart attitude that comes about when one sees all others as enemies; deliberately refuses to forgive; and usually is a result of a non-existent prayer life.
Please do not forget that in some serious circumstances (such as sexual abuse, fraud, injury or murder of one’s relative), forgiveness may be a long, extremely painful process. Be very careful of bringing out the “root of bitterness” trump card.
5. “Thank you for sharing your heart.”
Usually said with the best of intentions, this is the single most meaningless, cringe-worthy, condescending, cliché-sounding phrase in the ecclesiastical lexicon, according to women I’ve spoken to.
It is meaningless because it is a non-answer, offering no resolve. It is condescending because it dismisses whatever the counselee (or parishioner) has said to the level of emotionalism. It is insensitive at best; insulting at worst. And rank-and-file church members know that.
One woman told me that this sounded like a pat-phrase taught in biblical counseling courses as a buffer; something to pull out when one doesn’t know what else to say. I know of another incident where a woman carefully documented details of incidents – with dates, names, witnesses and details – to give credence to a serious situation of abuse she had brought to her pastor’s attention. She was thanked for sharing her heart.
“My heart had nothing to do with it,” she said. “They wanted facts? I gave them very specific facts. I’ve never felt so dismissed and unheard in my life.”
A better alternative to “thank you for sharing your heart” might be to thank the person for the trust they demonstrate in you by sharing this information with you, and then ask what action steps she would like you to take.
This not only validates that the issue they’re addressing is important; it puts feet to the faith we profess to have. Faith and love both lead to action – there’s usually a reason they’re telling you something, and unless it’s over a coffee in Starbucks, it’s rarely just for the sake of sharing their heart.
Choose Words Wisely
As Christians, whether in the counseling room or out in the world, we’re called to be quick to listen and slow to speak (James 1:19). Although certainly none of us does this perfectly, thinking about how to make our words more meaningful (and edifying) might mean changing some of the ways we phrase things.
Always try to consider how the listener will receive what you say, in her personal experience and situation. Frame your words accordingly, and in this way you will be demonstrating the love of Christ.
Friend, are you sick of Christian cliches? Would you consid effective, “cliche-free,” and caring biblical counseling?
Please contact me and we can set up a free 15-minute free consultation. We can “meet” by Skype, in person, or over the phone. Just the other day, a woman from Germany had a free consult with me, and now we’re counseling, looking to Jesus and the Bible for answers to life’s troubles.
Sharing Hope with Your Heart,
When you hurt someone’s feelings, is it enough to say “I’m sorry”?
Or do these words fall flat when spoken without godly sorrow (2 Corinthians 7:10)? Is there a preferred alternative? Is so, what?
Years ago these questions swirled in my mind when one of my children called her sibling a name, snatched an item without permission, or smacked her on the head.
In this short article, I’ll share. . .
- an experiment that flopped
- the change that made the difference.
The main point: Don’t raise a little pharisee who knows the right words to say.
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Instead, train up a child to who desires to please the Lord.
The ‘I’m Sorry’ Method
Several Christian moms at my church, Bible study, and MOPS swore by a method to change their dear children’s behavior after a skirmish.
Picture this scenario: Carrie tiptoes into older sister Mary’s closet and snags a super cool top to wear. Later Mary sees Carrie at school in her top and pointed words fly like daggers. Later at home their mom learns of the problem and tells the swiper to return the top and say “I’m sorry” followed by “I forgive you” from the other sister, then they hug. She requires both girls to say “I’m sorry” and “I forgive you” for the mean words, and they hug again.
The mom in the scenario truly believes she’s getting to the root of the problem and that the girls learned a valuable lesson about taking without asking first and using hateful words. Have you found yourself in a similar situation? How did you discipline your kids?
Sort of hopeful (but not confident) this method would work, I tried a week-long experiment with my three children. I clued in my husband. A united front, right?
The plan: When one child was mean in some way to another, the offending kid had to say, “I’m sorry” whether or not she felt sorry. The offended kid had to say, “I forgive you” whether or not she truly forgave her — and they hugged.
The goal: to instill a humble, contrite spirit leading to true repentance. But did it work?
Laura called Julia a name, said “I’m sorry” while rolling her eyes, and Julia said “I forgive you” with great enthusiasm, bless her heart. Their hug resembled a vice grip you might witness on WWE. Within minutes John hit Julia in the face with a bouncy ball. It was an accident.
“I forgive you.”
Those two began throwing things at each other just to get to the vice-grip hug. Laura was “like whatever” and escaped to her bedroom.
When a lamp crashed and a cat flew out of the way, I stopped the experiment. I could not handle another six days!
The experiment flopped.
My children said the right words without an inkling of repentance. I was raising vice-grip loving, little Pharisees!
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Change That Makes the Difference
The real point behind genuine sorrow is repentance. Wordly sorrow is fakery; it’s death.
Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death (2 Corninthians 7:10).
“Sorrow,” in this context, refers to sorrow that is according to the will of God and produced by the Holy Spirit, says pastor John MacArthur whose Grace to You media ministry reaches millions. True repentance is impossible apart from genuine sorrow over one’s sin.
This was my problem and my kids’ problem: The “I’m sorry” were just words, not genuine sorrow.
Worldly sorrow has no redeeming value. This type of “I’m sorry” results from getting caught in a sin or from wounded pride, and leads to shame, despair, self-pity, and even death (see Mattew 27:3 for the account of Judas’ hanging).
Genuine repentance is at the very heart of one’s salvation. Believers repent of their sin continually as they turn from loveless thoughts, words, behaviors, and motivations and turn to God.
A person who is truly repentant experiences change in the inner person. Consider this:
But the things that come out of the mouth come from the heart, and these make a man ‘unclean.’ For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander. (Matthew 15:18-19, NIV)
The Pharisees were experts in “good” behavior–as my children became adept at saying “I’m sorry” and vice-grip hugs–and missed heart change. True repentance cuts to the heart.
Are your kids (young or older) driving you nuts? Do you need encouragment and godly counsel? Consider scheduling a free 15-minute phone call with me; contact me and we’ll set it up.
Sharing Hope with Your Heart,