I think there's a difference between regret and living with regret. Regret, to me, lasts for a moment or a short period of time. Regret, much like guilt, can be very real and a powerful catalyst in bringing about change. Living with regret, well, it's self-explanatory. It lasts a lifetime. It means we're perpetually looking over our shoulders at the past, unable to fully embrace where we're at today and own it. In a way, living with regret means we're defined by the past "what-ifs".
What gets me thinking that I don't believe in living with regret is that there is no redemptive value in it. None whatsoever. Now, let me pause here and say that I've had my share of regrets, but I can't speak for those who have made choices with serious consequences that will follow them their whole lives. I can't speak as if it would be an easy task to shake the dust of those regrets off and keep going. I know from observing others that it's not easy, and I feel compassion for them, because I know that could just as easily be me. So I'll just stick to speaking to my own regrets.
But as I was saying, regardless of the scale of gravity of our regrets, I still don't believe carrying them with us our entire lives is redemptive. What I've been learning the past several years, about God crafting the rubbish in our lives into something beautiful that He can display, it teaches me something about regrets. I don't believe God desires us to live with regret. That He can shape anything ugly or malformed in our lives into a work of art is not an indicator that we can do no real wrong. It is a tribute to His endless redemptive capacity and the fervor with which He works passionately to reshape those things we wish we could hide, discard or do over. He does so to display His splendor, His glory, His love, His redemption, His power - His grace. Grace, as in that gift we could never earn but receive for free. Because I believe this about God, I can believe that we were not designed to live with regrets. There are consequences for choices, always, but we don't have to pick up regret and carry it with us.
God can redeem even the darkest of regrets.
If this were the only thing I knew about God, it would be enough to inspire awe in me my entire life. For I will have a lifetime supply of things for God to redeem, and therefore, I will never cease to witness His craftmanship firsthand. If I have eyes to see.