(Originally posted to our former blog site on 1/20/2014)
At the end of 2013, my husband and I had an “open house” night for students, friends, and family to say their goodbyes before we moved to Visalia, CA. It was an emotional night to say the least but it was full of love and laughter. When things had started to wind down, I noticed Rich had a certain look in his eye. I hadn’t seen this look in quite a while. It wasn’t anything you’d expect on a night like this. It wasn’t sadness, although you can be sure that there was sadness in the room. It wasn’t love, although there was much of that also. No… it was the eye of someone who was planning something both great and horrific.
A particular young girl had been provoking Rich all night, all year really at the youth group, and the prankster that he had made dormant for many years was about to rear its ugly head.
I am not one for pranks, I feel way too bad afterward, but my husband on the other hand is the king. He’s done some pretty extreme things in years past (nothing that was unprovoked, would harm another person and all in good fun) and that night wouldn’t disappoint.
After dumping two giant cups of freezing cold water on her, a few guys had wrestled her out the front door and locked it behind her; Rich of course waiting in the front yard with a hose to spray her down. And spray her down he did. She was SOAKED. It made for a lot of laughs and some great memories but the thing that caught me off guard the most did not come from my husband at all, it came from my little five year old.
Hearing the commotion Michael had put on his Spiderman costume and ran into the room screaming “Super-Michael is here”. Upon seeing the boys wrestle the girl out the door; Michael turned back and ran into my bedroom where I later found him hiding behind my bed. When I realized that he was hiding I crouched down to see what was wrong and all he kept saying was “I should have helped her”.
My heart was filled with sadness, looking into the eyes of my son who was so full of regret that he had to hide. I never wanted him to feel that way again but I know that it is a part of life.
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When I was a sophomore in high school I was invited to junior prom with a boy that had been a mutual friend of friends for many years. It was a great night; I got dressed up, did the typical “I’ll have a salad” for dinner at the nice restaurant, and away we went to the school to take pictures and stand awkwardly to the side like most sheltered horrified introverted girls my age. At the end of the night I faked feeling ill so he’d take me home, and I went to bed. Super exciting I know.
Just one year later, this boy had become more of a friend. We weren’t incredibly close but he was really nice and such a gentlemen. The night of his graduation he stayed up all night and never woke up the next day. I remember hearing the news saying to myself, “I should have asked if he knew God, I had spent enough time with him that I should have asked.”
For weeks I beat myself up, he was gone and I would never have another chance.
I share these two stories with you for a few reasons. Often times we act like Michael did the night of our party. We see an injustice happening, get ourselves all ready, pump ourselves up with tons of scriptures, and then seeing the magnitude of the situation- we run and hide, only to recite a list of I should have’s later on. Even if we contribute in a small amount to the situation we never call it enough. I should have… I should have…
We are human, we fail… A LOT. Think of Judas, he walked with Jesus for 3 years and ended up betraying Him in the garden for thirty pieces of silver. In Matthew 27 we find Judas full of remorse, bringing the pieces of silver back to the chief priests in hopes of finding some way, begging to find any way, to undo what he had done. Can you imagine the regret that was in his heart? The thoughts of “I should have” that plagued him? It was so unbearable that Judas realizing he couldn’t take it back took his own life.
If you have walked through a situation that left you full of “I should have’s” then I have three things to say to you…
Can you change it?
Is it possible for you to travel back in time and change what was done?
It is with great sadness that we must conclude that everything that we do cannot be taken back. We can’t change what was done. We can’t go back and encourage instead of bully, speak up instead of keeping silent, say no instead of saying yes, go to church instead of going to the party… or even help instead of hide from the girl about to be doused in water. I can’t go back in time and ask my friend if he knew God, ask if he had a relationship with Him. With everything in me I wish that I could. But we can’t. Judas knew this all too well.
Can you fix it?
Is there something you can do to help bring restoration to the situation?
For me, there is nothing I can do because my friend is gone but for most of you there is something you can do. You can apologize if there’s someone to apologize to, or seek help and accountability. For you lucky few there is definitely no way to change it but there may be a way to fix it. And if there is… DO IT!!! But understand that some things will not and can not be fixed despite your best efforts. It doesn’t mean that you don’t try, even if it is never enough for the other person- try anyway. Judas tried to fix it, tried to give the silver back but it wasn’t enough to save Jesus from being beaten, mocked and crucified on the cross.
Can you be better because of it?
Is there a lesson to learn that you can decide within yourself that from here on out you will be different?
After attending my friend’s funeral I knew that I was not anyone’s Savior, but that didn’t mean I couldn’t reach out to my friend’s. I started bringing friends to church and talking to people about God. Not in a preachy way, where I felt the burden to see them all accept Christ. No, I understood that I was just a vessel for God to use and I would live my life in a way that brought Him glory. And if He did open a door for me to use words, I took it. I knew I couldn’t change what happened, and I couldn’t fix it, but I could be better because of it.
I wish that Judas could have understood this too. If he had, he would have lived long enough to see Jesus come back from the dead and make a way for us all to live with Him in eternity. He was so plagued by his past that he deprived himself of a future.
If you are reading this and you are struggling with an “I should have” of your own, I beg of you to let it go. You can’t change it, you can try to fix it, but you can and WILL be better because of it. Press on. Forgive yourself and press on. Tomorrow is a brighter day.
Acts 2:25-26 King David said this about him: ‘I see that the Lord is always with me. I will not be shaken, for he is right beside me. No wonder my heart is glad, and my tongue shouts his praises! My body rests in hope.
**Regret is the great thief of joy, but hope will restore it back to you.**