Updated: Nov 20, 2019
Regret is joy sucking mosquito that keeps biting you, but you can’t find it in order to kill it. We’ve all been in situations this year that we probably regret. On a personal note, If I knew in January 2019 what would happen over the course of this year, things would be different. But, retrospect doesn’t give us a ticket to time travel. All we can do is learn from the mistakes we regret, right? Hmmmm...I’d like to challenge that.
Regret is consuming and toxic. For a while, I thought having regret concerning certain situations what was I needed to stay away from what God has delivered me from...and God has wrecked my whole cognitive process concerning that.
Regret and Healing Are Not the Same Thing.
This year, I realized what it means to be taken for granted. It sucks. People just expected me to be fine because I love God. Have you ever realized how many people ask you “how are you?” just as a conversation filler, not because they actually care? Once I slowed down and re-organized my priorities, I had so much free time, I didn’t know what to do with myself! Shortly after my newfound freedom, regret sent me into a place of silent sadness. Everyone that was blowing my phone up asking for advice, free stuff, prayer supernaturally lost my number when I was no longer to provide them with.. well…. me :).
I honestly believed that regret would keep me from being taken advantage of again, but I was wrong. Regret will make you think that you’re protecting your heart when you’re really stunting your healing. Regret will cause you isolate yourself and miss genuine connections that need to be cultivated. On the other hand, healing will cause you to see things from a different perspective. Healing will not force you to develop amnesia, but it will ease the pain associated with the memory. Healing will allow you to open yourself up to the possibility of making mistakes and regretting them, in order to learn from the experience.
Which brings me to my next point: the regret of being overlooked.
Overlooked: The Silent Regret
Let’s use the recent events surrounding John MacArthur’s misogynist comments concerning women in ministry. In his mind, empowering women makes men weak (this is an actual quote). Oddly enough, I’m sure he doesn’t have a problem with a woman cooking, cleaning, booking his appointments or stroking his ego – which is a ministry within itself.
I have no idea how stressful it is to be John MacArthur or a Pastor. MacArthur has a wide influence and his following exemplifies that. I do not claim to know how to fix John MacArthur’s life (or his theology), but I do know that if the women that serve him directly and directly “go home”, he won’t have a home to go to. Every (male or female) secretary, janitor, media consultant, maid, etc. that is connected to his ministry matters just as much as John MacAruthur.
While pastoring can invoke an immense amount of stress upon an individual (with or without the aid of the Holy Spirit), it’s equally as stressful to serve a Pastor. But guess who gets overlooked? Jesus? Actually, yes. Often times, Jesus is the most overlooked person in the room. But guess who else? The people who are called to serve in any capacity, more specifically – women.
It is an undebatable stress gap between men and woman in the workplace and in ministry. Domestic labor is just as physically taxing as physical labor. Don’t debate me. The term “emotional labor,” is a concept that the writer Jess Zimmerman made familiar in a 2015 essay for The Toast. The essay sparked a massive thread on MetaFilter. As a result, hundreds of women spoke up about their own experience with emotional labor, in other words: the duties that are expected of you, but go unnoticed.
Here’s a short excerpt from Zimmerman’s essay:
We are told frequently that women are more intuitive, more empathetic, more innately willing and able to offer succor and advice. How convenient that this cultural construct gives men an excuse to be emotionally lazy. How convenient that it casts feelings-based work as “an internal need, an aspiration, supposedly coming from the depths of our female character.”
Housework is not work. Sex work is not work. Emotional work is not work. Why? Because they don’t take effort? No, because women are supposed to provide them uncompensated, out of the goodness of our hearts.
In other words, the invisible duties of a woman only become apparent when women don’t do them.
So, what’s the solution? Do women need to go on an emotional labor strike? Maybe. However, it may be best for us women to release regret concerning the things we couldn’t complete while we were being emotionally available. You're human. You're not just a resource, you're a person. You have a deeper purpose that just being used. Now, for the Christians, I know it's a privileged to be used by God. Just make sure you're being used by God and not abused by God's children.
As a professional woman, I can attest to the fact that I feel guilty for not being able to do it all. I’ve also been guilt tripped because I couldn’t be present for someone else’s emergency. Does that mean that I need to cut everyone off and be on my own? Not necessarily. I tried that already, and it doesn’t work well.
Based on my experience and observation, to overcome being overlooked and underappreciated, you have to return to the one that matters.
Do you know how many times I choose to complain instead of worship because complaining satisfied some unhealthy facet of my flesh? Somehow, I lost my mind. I mean, I lost my doggone mind. Since when does the validation of someone who didn’t call me in the first place take precedent over what God says about me?
Additionally, I learned that I have to disconnect from my stressors and be honest when I’m not “ok”. The biggest mistake I made this year was expecting people to know how to love me without me taking the time to teach them. Let’s be clear, loving me isn’t hard – it just takes effort. If you’re reading this, and you have developed this mindset that you’re too difficult to love – breathe. That’s a lie from the pit of hell. You’re enough. You’re worthy of love. And I pray that you find it.
Here are a few ways that you can transform regret into a lesson learned:
1. Accept that everyone makes mistakes, even you. Even though some mistakes are harder to get over than others, prolonged regret can interfere with all areas of your life – relationships, career, health, etc.
2. Avoid self-hatred like the plague.
3. Genuinely forgive yourself. Regret and resentment keep you a prisoner of negative thoughts and emotions.
4. Focus on your good qualities. You have some, right? :)
The Process of Restoration
Have you ever observed the process of restoration before? With TV shows like Fixer Upper, I feel like a book smart expert :).
The first thing you do in any restoration process is get rid of anything that needs to go. Resentment, fear of loss, hurt, pain, grief, frustration or just a few of things that need to go. Gutting is not fun, it's actually pretty taxing. Thankfully, God is a master craftsman. He knows exactly what He’s doing. Surrender to the process of unlearning and learning how to operate in life after things have not gone as planned.
Once you can see the structural integrity of the piece, you can begin planning what the final product will look like. For me, this was the most difficult stage of the restoration phase because I don’t always get to see God’s plan. Honestly, I spend more time doubting God’s plan than believing it. But, I'm learning to trust. God is good and God will be good to me.
If you’re reading this, and you feel so broken that you can’t find your way back to yourself, remember that God restores. He makes all things beautiful in their time.
Laying a Foundation
Before a builder can start adding to a house, he must make sure there is a strong foundation to build off of. God is not a handyman. God builds masterpieces. One you reject the lies that you so desperately want to believe about yourself, you can allow God to establish his identity within you. Remember, your foundation in God is rooted in love and God’s love is stronger than….. well anything.
With a strong foundation comes decorations. Gifts such as love, joy, peace, kindness, gentleness will look amazing on the restored you! I’m a witness that God can restore the most broken heart and then give you a hope beyond understanding. If you’re struggling with regret, you’re not alone. On the other side of this is a new you. One that is wiser, stronger, and healed. I’m praying for you to transcend from your regrets and then help someone else move from regret to restoration.