“Sing, O barren one, who did not bear; break forth into singing and cry aloud, you who have not been in labor! For the children of the desolate one will be more than the children of her who is married,” says the Lord. “Enlarge the place of your tent, and let the curtains of your habitations be stretched out; do not hold back; lengthen your cords and strengthen your stakes. For you will spread abroad to the right and to the left, and your offspring will possess the nations and will people the desolate cities.“ – Isaiah 54:1-3
If each of us had to come up with a list of our top ten regrets, it would take some thinking to determine which regrets make the top ten and which fall outside the top ten. We’d have to swim back upstream to the moment just before it all went wrong, consider the magnitude of the regret and then decide if it makes the top ten or not. We would discover that our minds are often orderly memoirs of past moments, past conversations, and past relationships. What if I had done things differently? What if I had said something else? What if I had taken a different direction? Would I have less regrets? But I believe somewhere in this process of ranking our regrets, we would pause for a moment and think to ourselves: “In every case I had the best intentions. I really did. I didn’t set out to create regret, in fact I absolutely intended to do the thing that would have prevented the regret in the first place.”
Good intentions may well express our desired outcome, but usually do not necessarily express the actual outcome. Joyce Meyer said that “Good intentions never change anything. They only become a deeper and deeper rut.” The truth is, intentions are not enough. Yes, they may start something, but intentions will not complete what you started. For example, how many times have we been corrected/confronted by our spouse or friend only to respond, “Well, I did/didn’t intend to….”? What we intended did not change the outcome, much less excuse our actions.
The way to help eliminate regret is to move those intentions into action steps. Take the dormant someday into now. Have we intended to invite someone over for dinner? Invite them. Have we intended to apologize and seek forgiveness? Drive over and ask for forgiveness. Have we intended to learn the Bible and increase in prayer? Set aside time today to start. Have we intended to call a friend or family member? Pick up the phone. Have we intended to invite your neighbor to church? Walk over and ask if they would like to go with you to church on Sunday to learn about living a life of no regrets.
Galatians 6:9 is a verse that I believe applies here: “And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.” You cannot reap good intentions, but you can reap doing good. It will strengthen your resolve to keep pushing and it will help eliminate regrets later on.
- Are good intentions simply a case of poor follow through?
- Have you experienced the cost/damage of good intentions?
- Do you believe good intentions can stall or hamper your spiritual life?
- Pray for margin in your life that will open up to turn intentions into action.