I overheard the hair stylist talking to her customer the other day as I sat in the barbershop. He commented on her youthfulness… saying, “You must have dropped out of high school to go to beautician’s school.” “No,” she replied. “But, I did take classes while in high school in order to get my license early.” The conversation, at first, appeared to be a pick-up line. The man said, “Oh, if I could go back to your age, while knowing what I know now.” Then it took a surprising twist because I was anticipating the man to say something like, “I would not have sold that hot rod I had or I would have asked more pretty girls out for dates instead of being shy.” But he didn’t. He kept quiet a moment and a different hairstylist chimed into the conversation to say, “I wouldn’t want to go back… the teenage years and my early twenties were difficult times.” That was when the man said, “Well, if I knew then what I know now, I wouldn’t do the things that made those years so difficult.” And in his voice I heard the familiar sound of regret. That feeling, we all experience, when we look back on the past errors in life. Regret can be debilitating if it goes unresolved or ignored.
We should know that it is a mark of our humanity to carry regret. Someone once told me that the older he became the more he realized just how imperfect he is! Indeed, the mature person who has thrown away the childish ways will long to be able to go back and make different decisions that might not cause so much pain, so much regret.
Of course, life does not work that way, does it? And though it can be sad to see regret in people or hear it in their voices, and it is terrible to have regret ourselves for the past decisions we’ve made. We need to know that these are the things that have shaped us into the people we are today. We may not be able to square up all our past errors, but we are far less likely to repeat them again because of what the encounters taught us.
There is a lot of randomness in life, but there is also a whole lot of purpose too. Look back on your life and you may come across a bump of regret. Perhaps you may still have the opportunity to balance it; but if not you can rejoice for you have been shaped into the person you are today by learning from your past.
"Lean into it!"