In preparation for the Speak-Up Conference I’m attending, I was required to write a speech about this bible verse:
“Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.”
– Philippians 3:13-14
We all have regrets. We remember the stupid things we’ve said in social settings, the mistakes that have hurt others, and the failures that make us look incompetent and feel inferior.
I think Aldous Huxley says it best:
“Chronic remorse, as all the moralists are agreed, is a most undesirable sentiment. If you have behaved badly, make what amends you can… On no account brood over your wrongdoing. Rolling in the muck is not the best way of getting clean.”
So how can we stop rolling in the muck? The first step is identifying the areas where we’re particularly prone to regrets.
The first area is physically. For example, I’m still pretty new to blogging and social media use. Before I post something, I often ask myself, “What would my most critical friend say?” Which, of course is the wrong attitude, so I often ignore the answer entirely and post something before I can second-guess myself.
But recently I overheard two friends of mine talking about my Instagram posts, saying how everyone needed a friend who posted “cringey” things on Instagram.
A lot of times, I’ll look back at my own feed and regret something, and those little, disparaging voices in my head will pipe up, “Wow, I sound really lame. Oh, maybe I was too vulnerable in that post. (grimace) And this caption obviously screams, ‘Hey, I’m new at this!’”
Yet even today, I still have posts going up. I know I’ll probably look back at today’s post a year from now and cringe, so why bother?
Here’s another example: In order to attend the Speak-up conference, I had to call to book my own hotel room. It was a ridiculously simple task, but I was feeling really shy and nervous, because I’d never done it before. This upcoming trip is kind of like a “rite of passage” for me; I’ve never traveled by myself before, and I almost feel like I’m pretending to be an adult when I’m not (though legally speaking, I am).
After I made the reservation, my cheeks were burning. My voice had come across as uncertain and shy, and when I’d finished, I hadn’t hung up, since I didn’t know who was supposed to hang up first. After a few long seconds, the man on the other end hung up. Yes, it was a silly, small, and simple task, but I found the result somewhat embarrassing and demoralizing. Even recalling this isn’t comfortable.
Guess what? I know I’m going to do things I’ll regret at this conference. Maybe I’ll feel like I have to prove myself since everyone around me is going to be decades older, and I’ll say something stupid. Maybe my insecurities will swamp me at one point, making it obvious how inept I am. Maybe I’ll feel that I have more speaking experience than the average attendee, so I’ll come off as distastefully arrogant.
At one point or another, whether it’ll be at the conference, ordering at a restaurant, or finding my next flight, I know I’ll come off as inexperienced and completely new at this, since I’ve never done it by myself before.
Why would I use all my graduation money on a conference where I’ll have more opportunities for regrets than ever? Why even try when I know in advance I’ll make a mistake?
Because I have a mission. When I’m pursuing my calling, regrets and mistakes don’t matter. After all, if God’s plan is perfect, why wouldn’t it account for my mistakes? How could an imperfect person mess up a truly perfect plan?
I know one day I’ll say something stupid during an interview, I’ll write something regrettable on my blog or in my book, and I’ll embarrass myself through my own ignorance or arrogance, and that’s okay. The road bumps don’t matter half as much as where I’m going.
Wow! I didn’t expect to have quite this much to say, so I’ll be posting on spiritual regrets next week 🙂
What things make you look back and cringe? What regrets do you have?