A friend of mine from college posted on his Facebook page a few thoughts about regrets. Here they are:
“I always hear people say, “I live my life with no regrets” or “I have no regrets in life.” Really?! Not one. I have tons. Practically every conversation I have, I later think, “why did I say that?” or “I could’ve said that better.” God bless regrets. They are vital for regular course correction.”
Pretty good, huh?
In hospice, we help people work through regrets as they reach the end of their days on earth: assisting with contacting family members long lost, or goading fathers to pick up the phone and call a child with whom they haven’t spoken in years. We humans have such a difficult time saying I’m sorry, me included, that we are willing to suffer a close relationship over it.
Solving simpler regrets is less daunting, and much more fun. Just last week, one of our patients expressed a desire to spend a day on the lake, something she hadn’t been able to do for years. Our volunteer coordinator contacted some good folks at a local marina and arranged the event. It was wonderful. Check out the pictures at our facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Texas-Hospice/163038994186. She didn’t want to finish this life without that last experience.
The biggie, though, is helping our patients reconcile with God, the One who created us, the One who thinks often of us. Many of us have been hurt by religion, or by a “religious” parent, and our view of the Creator is discolored with some deep-seated, sickening evil. What I have seen in people who carry that view of God is an awakening of a desire to connect with God as their physical death approaches. It is a journey of wanting to know whether or not the Creator really is who they thought. Sometimes they experience an incredible tranformative moment when they allow Him to re-connect.
It is helpful to me, after reading or hearing about all the awful things done by “Christians” to understand that those actions say nothing about Jesus. He is who He is regardless of our behavior. One of my heroes, Mahatma Ghandi, was quoted as saying he would become a Christian if it weren’t for all the Christians he encountered. “Yes, but what do you think of Jesus?” would be an appropriate response.
In his book, American Babylon, Richard Neuhaus reminds us that we who declare ourselves Jesus-followers must view our presence in this life as exile, i.e. we are strangers looking forward to a better city, the city of God. Folks who write on this subject are apt to quote Jeremiah 29, which says,”Seek the peace of the city where I have caused you to be carried away captive.”
In the next 24 hours, over 5,000 images will bombard your brain, sending your cognition and attention in a myriad of directions, and not many, if any, will be toward what it means to follow in the footsteps of the Nazarene. We live in the land of a million choices. But if we understand ourselves as exiles, we can attempt to avoid conformity to too much of our culture, to not be pressed into its mold, and even to be transformed bythe renewing our minds.
Christianity isn’t a self-help series about avoiding the bad things in our society. It is a full-throttle following of the God-Man, the One who asks us to love our enemies, to not Lord over those working for us, and to give when no one is looking. How is that for counter-cultural? And, let me ask, will you find those messages on the billboard on your way home tomorrow?
“In the world, but not of it,” is a phrase you might have heard growing up. I think that gets it just about right, as long as we don’t excise ourselves completely from the human beings living around and in the city of our sojourn.
Like anyone else, I do and say things I regret almost everyday. Their existence is opportunity for course correction, as my friend noted. May I add that the Nazarene who knows all about you and your mistakes is geeked-up in love with you. He can’t stop thinking about you, He can’t get you off His mind, He is for you, and, the best place for you to be walking as close behind Him as you can possibly get. You won’t regret it.