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In praise of regrets

At yoga this morning, the woman beside me had ‘no regrets’ tattooed on her foot.  I assume she means – live life to the fullest.  Being literal-minded though, I wondered – what would it mean to have no regrets?

For a ministerial screening program, I remember answering a question something like “Is there anything about you, that if people found out, would be damaging to your ministry?”  My reply – Absolutely! It would be weird if I didn’t have any baggage. How could I be a good leader if I didn’t have any regrets?  I think this applies to all sorts of people – fundraisers, pastors, parents etc.

No regrets = narcissist?

At one extreme, no regrets could mean you just don’t care about anyone besides yourself.  Sure, you hurt someone but so what? Having regrets means you care. Caring is good!

No regrets = timid?

At the other extreme, no regrets could mean that you have not ventured out of the safe zone enough.  Not taken enough risks, nor failed enough. Failing offers a terrific learning experience (at least in retrospect!)

Embracing regret

I’m not suggesting we should wallow in shame and guilt.  Forgiveness turns guilt into regret, and regret is easier to carry.  I’m wondering though, if a certain amount of regret might be healthy.  Remnants of regret provide an emotional early warning system that informs future decisions.

I am far too uncool to have tattoos but “Carrying some regret” might be the right words for me.

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