How would you finish this sentence?

pin bg girl silhouette Isaiah 43I know I’m not the only one who sometimes imagines how I would respond if I could have a “do over”. I stew about past mistakes and think about what it would be like to have a fresh start. It can be draining.

Sometimes we whine about fairly inconsequential things. For example (and I may or may not have said any of these things, okay?):

“If I had it to do over again, I think I’d have  …

… ordered the beef.”
… taken the train.”
… left a bigger tip.”
… kept my yap shut.”
… stopped after one.”
… slept in.”
… reread that email before I sent it.”

Other times we ache because of something much deeper, perhaps rooted in sadness or regret:

“If I had it to do over again, I think I’d have …

… stayed single.”
… worked harder on the marriage.”
… refused to get in the car with him.”
… had kids younger.”
… made peace with her (or him) before s/he died.”
… worried less.”
… saved more for retirement.”

I used to play golf with a friend who refused to keep score. It wasn’t a philosophical thing; you could keep your own score if you wanted to. But after every hole, Deb would reset her stroke counter (yep, she had one of those), write absolutely nothing down, and start a new game on the next tee.

Over the years, I’ve played with a lot of golfers who simply could not enjoy themselves if they weren’t playing well. They’d hit a few errant shots, start muttering to themselves, and maybe even throw a club. That’s not fun. But Deb was one of the most joyful golfers I ever knew because she was always giving herself permission to start over.

You know, I should have followed her example off the golf course and given myself another chance more often.

The idea of getting a second (or in some cases, a third) chance is very appealing. We think we’d do things better if we could just have another go at it. (Would we?)

Here’s what’s true of me (and maybe you, too): When I’m hard on myself and reluctant to forgive me, I’m more aware of the shortcomings of others. Maybe it’s because I’ve been focused on the things I don’t like about myself or about my choices that I’m quicker to recognize the same flaws in those around me. Then I find it hard to grant needed grace to others. It can turn into a relational death spiral.

Maybe instead of saying, “If I had it to do over”, I could just decide to go forward from here and believe that God can give me that clean slate I long for. I can let Him “make a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland”.

How about you? If you “had it to do over”, what would you have done differently?

About Diane Rivers

Diane is a native Floridian whose career as an FBI Agent got her transferred to the North. She's retired from that gig now and "repurposed" as a freelance writer, author, and sometimes poet who blogs about the bumpy, bone-jostling ride of her “workaround” life. She loves Jesus, her family, black coffee, kayaking, biking, and hiking, and she looks forward to eternity with the One who will make all things beautiful. (Ecclesiastes 3:11).

8 thoughts on “How would you finish this sentence?”

  1. Hmmm I would have had another slice of tiramisu! 😉

    While I ask myself this question, I do believe that thinking about a do-over is an exercise in futility. I am also hard on myself but I’m learning, that moving forward and committing to doing better, being better is the best and possibly only way.

    Thoughtful post Diane.

    1. It is definitely an exercise in futility. I agree moving forward is the best – and really, the only – way to live. I get myself in a ditch when I wallow in regret. No progress there! Perhaps I should join you in another slice of tiramisu ~ that sounds lovely!

  2. Thanks. I too am harder on myself than others. Sometimes when I am hard on myself, I imagine another person failing in the same manner as I have; and thinking what I would say to them: and then trying to say it to myself.

    1. You know, this is a really great approach. It makes me think of how any of us respond to our children over their failures; we certainly are more understanding and gracious to them than we are to ourselves. I’m going to remember that. Thanks, Allen.

  3. Soooooo many things, it makes me sad to think about it. They say to not live life with regrets but I have so many. However the choices were mine and I can’t seem to move on from my past. How do you get past all that is dragging you down, holding you back and get on with your life striving just just a moment of happiness & peace?

    1. I, too, have a lot of regrets over choices I’ve made. But I am a strong believer in God’s grace and forgiveness. When I get dragged down and held back, I have found it helpful to remind myself that the condemnation I feel is not from God. Happiness and peace are from Him. I have to “right-size” my thinking. (Sadness is exhausting.)

      I really like Allen’s suggestion in his comment above – think about what we would say to someone else who has failed in the same way we have and then say the same to ourselves. That seems so civilized to me.

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