What do you do with regret?
By virtue of our humanness, none of us gets through life without regrets, be they big, small, or somewhere in between. We will never make the best decision in every circumstance. But just like many things in life, I think that it’s ultimately less about the regret and more about what we do with that.
I had an appointment to have a tooth pulled today and I am not good with any sort of dental event. Not cleaning, not x-rays, none of it. I’ve been trying to analyze why I have such issues with all of this. After all, plenty of people go to the dentist, have x-rays, cleanings, root canals, and the like. Not that people generally love it, but they’re okay with it. The oral surgeon asked about my fears today, too. What exactly am I afraid of?
Obviously pain is on that list. But this same oral surgeon removed all four of my wisdom teeth five years ago and I never had any pain. It went very well. So I don’t even know that pain is the biggest issue. But I do have an overly sensitive gag reflex. I can gag while brushing my teeth. Sometimes I can’t gargle. It’s a challenge for the hygienist to get x-rays. So being tilted back in a chair, mouth wide open for an extended period of time, while a tooth is broken up and removed (it’s a big old molar) was too much for my mental state. I had IV sedation for my wisdom teeth and have opted to go that route for my one molar. Part of me wanted to go ahead and just do it the conventional way with numbing, but I didn’t. So today was just a consultation with another appointment next week.
As I walked out of the office, all I could think was that I’m a big baby and I should’ve just gotten it done. Now I have to wait nearly a week and go through some of the stress again. If I’d have just done it today, it’d be done and over with right now and I could move on. They did have an appointment on Friday, but I have too many things going on this weekend and I didn’t want any of them to be hindered by it.
So I cried and I felt stupid and immature and overly emotional.
And I felt regret.
Not really a great response.
Yet I’m not sure that I could make myself feel any differently or respond any differently. The reality is that my feelings and certain responses aren’t within my control. And isn’t that often what it’s all about? Feeling out of control is awful. It’s weak. It’s frustrating. But I couldn’t muster up the wherewithal to override that stupid gag reflex and my fear about it.
So I was emotional. So I cried. So I postponed this process by six days. Now what?
2 Corinthians 12:9 says, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore most gladly I will boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.
There it is: God’s grace is sufficient – it is enough. His strength is made perfect in my weakness. I cannot always be strong. I cannot always be in control. I want to be. But I can’t. And I need to be okay with that. I am supposed to need Jesus. It’s not about my self-sufficiency. It never is.
The second lesson in this is that if I am never weak, never feel like a failure, never have regrets, then I will be utterly unable to relate to others. Nor will they relate to me. Given that relationships are one of the most important things in life, this matters. How will I have compassion and understanding for anyone else if I’ve not felt these difficult emotions? I’m likely to become prideful and think that people should just suck it up and put their feelings aside and do what needs to be done. After all, that’s what I tried to tell myself today.
Instead of looking at today’s decision with regret, I think that this is a gift. Maybe not the gift I wanted, but a gift that God chose to give me. If it helps me in my relationships and it was God-delivered, then I will choose to be okay with that.