By Catherine Gilmore
We all have regrets. Relationships that have fallen by the wayside, words that were never said, or perhaps, hard and hurtful words that can’t be taken back. Paths we never had the courage to walk down or slippery slopes we never should have ventured down in the first place. Some heavy regrets that feel impossible to hold and maybe even some trivial regrets surrounding silly things, like material possessions. I will admit that I regret accidentally selling my gorgeous annotated copy of Dante’s Divine Comedy to the University bookstore my sophomore year of college.
So we are stuck with regrets like mice stuck in those inhumane little sticky traps. And we must first come to the realization that we cannot get ourselves unstuck alone. If you know the type of sticky traps that I’m talking about, you’ll know that any attempt to free oneself is merely self-destruction. Not to be graphic, but it looks something like a mouse gnawing his own leg off. We cannot free ourselves from our own regrets, we are stuck. So what are we to do?
As Christians, we are truly blessed to know the ultimate way to freedom. We can turn and run to our Divine Master Who has the solvent we need to become completely free and unburdened for we know that “where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom” (2 Cor 3:17). Let us take all our regrets, big and small, and lay them down at His crucified feet. He will bend down and take our regrets upon Himself and He will resurrect them. He will create clean and refreshed hearts within us.
Now you might be thinking I’m a bit of an idealistic fool right about now. Death and unfulfilled promises and pain and difficult relationships and things that are broken and can’t be fixed. How do you just set these kinds of things at the feet of Jesus and walk away? That sounds so simplistic. That sounds so painless. That sounds so easy. And it’s not easy.
Realistically, I think it looks something like this; sitting in Eucharistic Adoration day after day and continually offering your regrets to Him. And then every time you find yourself taking them back upon yourself, offer them to Him again. And again and again. Personally, I can tell you that there aren’t many things that I’ve given to God that don’t have fingernail marks on them. I offer and surrender. I put my pain and frustrations and regrets at His feet. Then, approximately five minutes later, I grab them and take them back. This is exactly why I need to spend quality time before Him in Eucharistic Adoration. I need time to sit before His holy and perfect Heart in silence. Real silence, the kind where He can speak. He never takes anything without our permission. My heart slowly changes, bit by bit, and learns His Sacred Heart’s rhythm more and more. In time, I start to give Him permission to take the things that I no longer want to hold.
As Catholics, we also have the privilege of knowing Mary under so many beautiful titles. We can turn to our beautiful mother and ask her to help us. She will take us under her mantle and teach us to live a discerning life, to choose wisely among the things of this world so that we can more fully live out His plan for our lives without regrets. We can ask Our Lady of Sorrows to show us her open and grace-filled heart. In her Immaculate Heart, we can ponder all things without regret. We can learn from our pasts without beating ourselves up for not being perfect. Then, we can take this knowledge and use it to continue to struggle upwards on the path of holiness.
Perspective is also important. This might sound a bit strange, but consider making a list of things that you will never regret. It might just help you to refocus and remember why you are here on this beautiful earth and how you can glorify His name in all things.
Things I will never regret
Loving those around me
Offering to cook dinner for a friend
Drinking a good cup of coffee
Saying an extra prayer as I wait for the copier to finish my papers
Texting a friend a word of encouragement
Enjoying a phone-free hike in nature
Reading a spiritual book