I love the start of a school year. And January 1st. I love the eve of a vacation when there’s the promise of experiencing something new. Yes, I just can’t get enough of the hope that clean slate offers.
But I do look back and grieve sometimes, yearning for what has slipped through my fingers. Did I make the most of the summer? Did I make eye contact enough with my kids? Was I present enough with my husband while on vacation? As much as I crave change, I listen to Regret’s whispers over and over. It’s not the healthiest way to live.
With regret comes the longing to hold again what can’t be grasped as I resist the embrace of loneliness. As I cower in Shame’s shadow. You may have hid in this dark place before, too.
We’ve had some milestones this summer. We watched our son graduate from childhood and have prepared him to enter middle school. We celebrated my parents’ 50 years of marriage. We cradled a baby nephew after years and years of infertility — after years of longing felt by our whole extended family.
But the regret… Did I let my son know I delighted in him enough as a child? Have I put enough effort into my own marriage these past 18 years? Did I encourage my sister-in-law enough when she was still yearning for a child? Will there ever be enough? Will I ever be enough? I kind of hate that word.
The tension between moving ahead and glancing back mocks me. I know my Maker is good. And I know hope is mine because of His unwavering love. Yet I still weep, for the awkward dance of letting go and reaching to hope is hard. Brokenness, though, brokenness authenticates hope.
Therefore, now no condemnation awaits those who are living in Jesus the Anointed, the Liberating King. Romans 8:1
And you know what else? Not only is there no shame as I look back, but He’s doing something. He’s doing something new.
Watch closely: I am preparing something new; it’s happening now, even as I speak, and you’re about to see it. I am preparing a way through the desert; Waters will flow where there had been none. Isaiah 43:19
His way… a path through the embarrassment and regret and judgment.
His rivers…quenching my thirst in the desert of thinking too much.
I grasp my kids’ hands as we start a new school year. I feel His truth and freedom and hope woven throughout our stories, and we move forward. They’ll have their own stories of regret and redemption to tell their kids someday. But for now, I’m watching today closely.
I’m watching the new unfold.