A Costly Lesson About Closed Doors

IMG_3405This past week I was looking for something in a closet and came across a box of old handwritten letters. They were still in their original envelopes, held together with rotted rubber bands. I pulled them out and the next thing I knew, I had lost an entire afternoon.

What a kick to read stories from my then-25 year old sister gushing about the new job she had come to love. To revisit my mother’s fretting over her upcoming nursing board exams and hear again, at the end of every letter, how much she loved me. Priceless.

There was my Dad, telling about a fire in the building next door to the church, so hot it melted the plastic curtains in one of the Sunday School rooms and laughing about living in such a small town, he had driven to the next city to mail a letter, just for something to do.

What a joy to see the familiar handwriting of my beloved former mother-in-law, recounting stories of roses, relationships, and recalcitrant offspring in her inimitable way. She was a writer, and a good one; it felt like she was right there next to me.

So much water has passed under the bridge since then. Many of those experiences had evaporated like a mist – or so I thought – but reading those old letters brought them back.

Of course, I was thrilled to be reminded of the good times. But as I read, other memories from that time of my life came flooding over me and soon I was awash with longing, sadness, and regret.

From my perspective all these years later, I knew the very difficult path my life would take not long after those letters were written and I wanted to go back and do it all differently. Do it in a way that wouldn’t have hurt the people I loved and would have spared me a lot of pain, too. Do it in a way that would have honored God and wouldn’t have required such a circuitous path back to Him.

What’s more, I realized there was a pattern to the missteps I had taken over the years. I’ve made some of the same mistakes more than once and it seems I have had to learn certain lessons again and again.

I tossed and turned a lot that night.

Interestingly, the very next morning God led me to these words from Oswald Chambers in the devotional My Utmost for His Highest:

“Oh, the deep, unending sadness for what might have been! God never again opens the doors that have been closed. He opens other doors, but He reminds us that there are doors which we have shut – doors which had no need to be shut. Never be afraid when God brings back your past. Let your memory have its way with you. It is a minister of God bringing its rebuke and sorrow to you. God will turn what might have been into a wonderful lesson of growth for the future.”

Yep, I shut some doors, doors some of which had no need to be shut. And I had some doors shut on me along the way, too. My memory is certainly a rebuke and a sorrow. But God has never allowed me to shut Him out and instead, has opened other doors for me.

Even now, in His grace He whispers, “You’re learning.”

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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).

4 thoughts on “A Costly Lesson About Closed Doors”

  1. even without knowing the history of your regrets your post makes it possible to feel a universal sense of sadness and longing over what might have been and the peace and assurance of the existence of other doors. you exude a positivity that is inspiring. glad i happened upon your blog, diane.

    1. Glad you happened upon it, too, Mavis. I really appreciate your thoughtful observations. You’re right that the sense of sadness and longing is a universal one. God is good to open new doors for us, isn’t He?

  2. A great quotation from Oswald Chambers. I think many of spend so much time fretting about past mistakes. I know I do. It is good to hear again the good news that God doesn’t fret over them!

    1. Oswald Chambers frequently pops up in my reading with just the right nugget of wisdom to augment what I’m learning in God’s word. Fretting over past mistakes is one of my most unproductive tendencies. God is teaching me to learn from the past and then let it go.

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