Tina and Mary met at their favorite Starbucks. They were elated to this time to themselves, thanks to their husbands. No kids. No responsibilities. The gift of uninterrupted time with a girlfriend.
After ordering their favorite fall beverages, the headed for the chairs by the fireplace. It was cooling off in the evenings now, so the fire looked inviting. Plus, those chairs were overstuffed, the kind that envelope you in when you sit down.
Both of them let out a sigh at once. They looked at each other and burst out laughing. How good it was to have time to talk. A rare gift.
Their conversation rambled from topic to topic, easy, relaxed, and spiked with laughter. However, as Tina blurted out her concerns about some issues her son was experiencing, she said, “I should have seen it coming.” And the atmosphere tilted left.
I should have seen it coming.
Six seemingly innocent words. Yet, they are laced with emotion, mainly regret.
“Should” implies that you ought to do or be or say something. Often attached to disappointment or failure. When you or I say this about ourselves, we are saying we are “less than.”
Regret is an emotion none of us like to experience. It carries with it loss, disappointment with ourselves or others or circumstances, or dissatisfaction with something or someone. There are times when regret is appropriate for the moment. But, in that moment, identify the cause of the regret, honestly deal with it, and then move forward. Living with regret ties you to the past.
There are two groups who need to be set free from “should”:
- You. While you may have not seen something, you may have forgotten something, or may have made a mistake, adding “I should have” to whatever the error heaps on regret or guilt. Instead, I encourage you to extend the same grace to yourself that you would give someone else in the same situation. Don’t should on you.
- Everyone. Whenever you or I say to someone else, “You should <insert whatever>,” we are saying, in effect, “you are failing or I have a better way or idea.” We are heaping our expectations on another. Don’t should on anyone else.
Distress that drives us to God does that. It turns us around. It gets us back in the way of salvation. We never regret that kind of pain. But those who let distress drive them away from God are full of regrets, end up on a deathbed of regrets.
My encouragement today is to stop “shoulding” on yourself or others. For one day, listen to your words toward yourself and others. Do your words bring grace and life or heap burdens and regret? Not sure how to stop this kind of negative talk? Please reach out.
I’m listening to my words, too. And choosing to live without regret.