Thursday, June 17, 2010

Old Regrets

A few days ago I was thinking about old regrets from my past. Ironically, it is not big, scandalous things I seem to be haunted by...it is the seemingly smaller ones. Specifically, places where I really messed up in a friendship or work relationship. Periodically, instances come to mind that just make me cringe.

I regret that I did not do more to understand what a young father I supervised a decade ago was going through as his wife transitioned back to work. I allowed him to work flex hours, but I know my heart was not fully understanding--and feel like my attitude towards him might have reflected that.

I regret that I used to sneak clothes from my roommate's closet, wear them and put them back without telling her. I am sure she figured it out, but never mentioned it. I really do think her trust in me was eroded. Why did I feel the need to be so sneaky?

I regret not doing more to stick up for a couple of specific people in my life (one in high school, one in college) who were treated very badly by the 'in crowd.' I did not heap coals on their heads--but I was in positions to really help both of them and chose to remain virtually silent.

I regret going out with a boy my friend had a crush on. It didn't last long. He wasn't at all my type. My friend said it was OK (and mercifully we have remained friends) but I was insecure and he seemed interested. Seriously? What kind of friend was I?

So, I am wondering if I should track down these people all these years later and apologize...Does that do more harm than good to resurrect the past? Is it enough that I have repented to God? Are these remembrances a prompting from the Holy Spirit to 'make amends' or are they the Enemy taunting me?

If this were a reality television show, I know the answer would be to find them. Would tracking them down just reopen old stuff they have moved on from? Would it even be about the people I offended or more about MY need to move on and feel better?

I am pondering what that looks like in real life.

14 comments:

HW said...

Oh those little things that haunt us. I have many of those as well. We have a few as parents that have become running jokes that our kids, now that they are teenagers, join in on and laugh about too, "Remember, Dad, when you....."
I will say that my sister recently called me to apologize for something that haunted her - something she had done to me years ago. I didn't even remember it. I had no idea what she was talking about. But I certainly admire her for acting on her calling to call me.

Perhaps we are harder on ourselves than we need to be; but I certainly understand the need to "clear things up" with those we slighted in the past. Now I will be giving this some more thought.

Melanie said...

I wonder if the need to search down the people we have harmed is more a need to feel better about ourselves than to help the harmed person.

Shame is a good thing. I think it is a constant teacher on how to behave in other situations in our current lives.

Mistakes are part of the evolution of becoming human. Would it help if you prayed for those you have offended? Chances are they don't even remember the offenses.

You are such a kind soul to be so reflective!

ChelseaSalomone said...

I read an article or something on this very recently. I will work on tracking it down for you.

In my opinion, we all have regrets but that is one of the ways we know we are evolving as a person. I also think that you have to consider, when deciding whether or not to track someone down from your past, is it to make you feel better or to make them feel better?

ChelseaSalomone said...

This isn't what I was referring to, but I did stumble upon this:

"The reason God doesn't want to wipe your past completely out of your memory is because He wants to use that part of your life for the work He has called you to do. He will weave it into the foundation of your ministry...God wants you to learn from the past and witness firsthand how only HE can redeem it."
(From Stormie O'Martain's Power of a Praying Woman)

ChelseaSalomone said...

Sorry for the multiple posts but I found it!! It is chapter 26 of Power of a Praying Woman- it talks specifically about this. If you want to leave your email address on my blog I can scan it for you, or you can check the book out yourself.

Liz said...

I have sooo many of those sort of instances in my own life where I look back & think "wow...that person showed me so much grace & took so much abuse from me at the time....man I'm ashamed of how I acted now!". And then it hits me...what younger or less mature person should I be showing grace to?

Pam said...

I did make a call to someone to ask for their forgiveness once. She told me she already had forgiven me but my reason for doing it was I felt a prompting and believe that is what the bible tells us if we have wronged a brother. At the time I did not think about whether it was the enemy working in my thoughts. I do know that after I made that call I haven't thought about it since. I think my worrying about it was hindering my relationship with Jesus. Just my thoughts on the subject.
Pam

Laura said...

I became FB friends with one person that I had a regret over, so to her I apologized. That turned out well. Others I have not apologized to because some things happened so long ago and might dig up things that would be hurtful.

emmakate said...

Hey Jennifer! Would love to ask you some questions about the bible study "Wising Up." Sophie told me how to find it.. would love your feedback on it. Could you please e-mail me. Thank you!!! Emma Kate

emmakate said...

Woops! Didn't send e-mail initially!

Love Being a Nonny said...

I think though not NECESSARY, sometimes we don't have a clue what an age old apology would mean to a person. Where appropriate, I would apologize. For the OTHER person....which in turn, may do wonders for you. I love the promptings of The Holy Spirit...He is alive and well in our souls!

Peter and Nancy said...

I have those kinds of cringe-worthy memories too. I think if circumstances bring someone back into contact with me, it may be one way that the Holy Spirit is telling me to speak up. But I don't think you have to apologize to every single person you've ever wronged. It is a powerful way to remember how much I've been forgiven, though.

A former roommate of mine apologized to me last year (more than 18 years later!). She had been struggling through an eating disorder, and really resented me addressing it with her, speaking to the college counselor, etc. to try and keep her safe. I didn't think she needed to apologize at all -- she was living with a lot of pain at the time. But it was very moving to hear her words, nonetheless.
Nancy

Marta Jeremy Emily and Abigail said...

From my personal experience, it helped for me to make an official apology, even years afterwards.

Daree said...

I know those were not my clothes you borrowed. Who would've wanted any of those? I think I remember this maybe...

Anyway...more importantly... It makes me feel better hearing you say this because I struggle with the same thing and one thing said that i relive almost every day was something I said to you. I know that person doesn't care you wore their clothes...and never thinks about that you did that. My hope is you too don't think about my saying what I did that I live with and regret daily!