Everyday we experience changes. Some minuscule, some catastrophic, but all relevant to the grand scheme of our lives. Some changes derive completely from chance, others pure choice and consequence. Some people thrive on change, embracing it, loving the way it adds spice to life, while others dread it. Completely. Totally. Utterly.
I was in the latter camp.
The past tense being used in the above sentence doesn’t mean that I’ve fully staked my tent in the “I love change” group, but what I’m slowly, albeit reluctantly, beginning to realize is change may be awful, disruptive, stressful, overwhelming, and heart breaking; but it can also be joyful, redemptive, possibility laden, and smile producing. But what I’m learning most of all is how this idea of regret must live separately from change.
How many times have we said — “No, I’m not going to do it! What if I regret it? What if it’s the wrong path/choice/way?” If you’re anything like me, those lines are a mantra sometimes playing over and over in my decision fatigued mind. Our culture has taught us to make sure we have “no regrets” after all “YOLO” (you only live once — for all my non-acronym people). Of course, there may be some choices in your life that you wish could be redone, erased, or taken back; but change in itself shouldn’t invoke regret.
Two weeks ago, I was driving to graduate school orientation. The school is about an hour and half from my house, and because I detest feeling rushed, I left at an obscene hour to get there on time. As I drove I couldn’t help shaking my head a bit with the surreal feeling of it all. If you had told me five years ago that I’d be married, living in North Carolina, with a puppy, and starting graduate school at Duke University — I would have laughed. Loudly. At pretty much everything but the puppy (What can I say? My kryptonite is puppies!).
As I continued pondering, other situations, decisions, turning points – changes – in my life came to mind.
Moving to Texas as a young girl.
Switching schools in high school.
Choosing a college.
Being diagnosed with Celiac Disease.
Family medical problems.
Moving back to Texas after graduation.
Choosing a church.
Meeting my husband.
Dating, engagement, marriage.
Friends moving away.
Our move to North Carolina.
Choosing a church here.
Buying a home.
The list will continue to go on until my dying day because that’s life. Life is ever moving, ever changing, ever in transition. If not for you in this season, for those around you. We are constantly confronted by change.
As I categorized the list in my mind, I couldn’t stop the obvious question — “What if?” What if all those “changes,” those decisions per se didn’t happen or a different path was chosen? What if my family never moved to Texas from the East Coast? What if I never was diagnosed with Celiac? What if I chose a different church than the one my future husband went to? What if we never moved out of Texas to North Carolina?
Instead of the unrest I thought those “what if’s” would cause, I felt peace wash over me. Because the “what if’s” are just that — what if’s. Speculation. Wonderings. Musings.
Because for every “what if” about whether staying in Texas was the right choice, a North Carolina memory, opportunity, or friendship came to mind.
Thinking back on high school, a thousand memories would not have been made had the difficult change of schools not taken place.
Rejection for a job I was sure was mine in Tennessee led me back to Dallas after graduation and to love and to friendships that will last a lifetime.
Change is hard. Devastating sometimes. But it doesn’t have to be accompanied by regret. As Christ followers we have a mastermind behind our lives — He loves us more than we could ever imagine, and he’s orchestrating a symphony with our lives. Just like the creative process here on earth, weaving a life takes time, and comes with unexpected setbacks and confusing detours.
We must trust the peace, the process, and the Provider of our very breath. One day, beyond the clouds, in our forever home, the pieces will come together, fitting in a way that was divinely appointed from the beginning of time. In this earthy life, we see but through a glass darkly (I Corinthians 13:12 KJV); yet sometimes through the misty fogginess, we can acknowledge the story He’s writing is so much greater than anything we could write on our own.
And there’s no room for regret in it.
My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place,
when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.
Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book
before one of them came to be. ~Psalm 139:15-16 NIV