Guilt and Regret

by Jan Silvious

I talk with many women in their middle years who are suffering from the double whammy of guilt and regret.

They look at their children and consider the unfinished product a failure.

They look at their husband, if he is still there, and wonder what it will be like to be alone with him when the children have all left home. Will he have anything to say? Will he be around the house all day? Will they get along?

They look at themselves-middle-aged housewives minus a college degree and no experience in the workplace-and think, "Time and tide have left me in the lurch. There is no way I could start a career at my age."

By the time they have taken their morbid inventory, depression has set in.

I can relate to their dilemma. I, too, assess my adult life and realize that I could have produced so much more. I could have been a better wife. I could have been a better mother. I could have done more with my education. The possibilities would have been limitless ten years ago, but now?

That kind of thinking is a dead end. If you catch yourself thinking that way, give yourself a good shake and remember:

1. The last chapter has not yet been written for our kids. Would you or I have been considered a likely candidate for "teen of the year"? Has the Lord not promised: "He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus" (Phil. 1:6)?

2. Doing is not as important as being. Since when is "doing something" the supreme goal? God's heart for us is that we "be something." He wants us to be an accurate reflection of who He is, no matter what we are doing.

We can choose to hang on to guilt and regret, but we don't have to. Jesus said, "I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full" (John 10:10). The abundant life precludes negative emotions.

He says that He has loved you with an everlasting love (Jer. 31:3).

He promises you a future and a hope (Jer. 29:11).

And He says, "Nothing can separate you from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus" (Rom. 8:31).

My friend, whatever your circumstance, the last chapter has not been written.

Not only that, but we have a God who specializes in surprise endings!

Lord, forgive me for getting all wrapped up in guilt and regret. I can't change the past, but I can change the way I approach the future. If I need to ask someone's forgiveness, bring it to mind. And Lord, I'm sorry I have not been more grateful for Your goodness to me, for the free pardon of my sin. I yield everything to You. In Jesus' name. Amen.

From The 5-Minute Devotionall

© Zondervan, 1991