no regrets, no problems?

I used to live in a house with 6 other college girls.  Three of them were named Erin.  It was awesome.  And yes, they did sing their names as a chord, arpeggiating the triad from the bottom up.  Wait, did that really happen?!  That is too awesome for words.

All three Erins emailed after my last post to say “that sucks” and “I’m praying.”  One Erin sent me a link to another blog talking about how that trite phrase God won’t give you more than you can handle is a load of crap.  I couldn’t agree more.  If you don’t believe me, you should read the other post.  He said it better than I could have anyway.

You know what else I think is a sad, misleading idea that gets tossed around a lot?  “Live life with no regrets.”  Yes, I think it’s a fabulous idea to live the best life you can and go after good things that might seem intimidating or difficult to attain.  Unfortunately, when you take a big idea that needs clarification and boil it down to a cute sentence that fits neatly on a facebook meme, people tend to drag that idea off into various dark corners.

“No regrets” should not mean:

  • As long as I meant it in the moment, it’s okay.  Authenticity trumps all, including compassion and wisdom.
  • Whatever bad has happened in my past made me who I am today, and I should like everything about me.  Therefore, everything bad is good.  I’d choose it again.
  • Apology?  What’s that?

How do I know people take a seemingly well-intentioned phrase and extrapolate such nightmarish conclusions?  Because my freshman students said all of the above in a conversation we had yesterday.  Are they sitting in an alternative school as a result of these attitudes?  Do many people have these ideas running through their heads?  Were they taught this explicitly by family or culture-at-large?   I’d really love to know.

To my way of thinking, the worst outcome of this approach to “no regrets” is that ultimately, it tells me I can do no wrong.  Sin doesn’t really exist for me, and there is no need for me to feel anguish over hurting someone else.

“So, you’ve never said something to your mom and felt bad later that you hurt her feelings?”  I asked them.

“No, because I meant it in the moment, so it is what it is,” replied one of my kids.

Pretty much all of the responses ran in that vein.  I had to remind myself that most of them talk out both sides of their mouths as a general rule, but…

Does that scare you?  It kind of did me.

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14 thoughts on “no regrets, no problems?

  1. Lauren,
    I live with regrets; more than I wish I had but I created them. I think part of life is learning to live with regrets; learning what to do about them; and how to handle them going forward. I also know going forward I will do things that I will regret as well. We should ask for forgiveness when we can; we should make restitution if it is appropriate and we should seek restoration is it is possible. I do believe that who we are is bound up in all that we have done. We all have scars just some of us our scars are not visible. I do think God can turn my blunders into wonders if I seek Him to do so. I do hope my living with my regrets makes me a better man in the sense I have learned from them and do not repeat them. If someone says they live without regrets then I think they are not in touch with how they affect people and how their actions turn things in this world. Also if they do not regret the things that cause harm then I feel sorry for them that they are not a person of compassion and one who could meet people on a deep level.

    • “If someone says they live without regrets then I think they are not in touch with how they affect people and how their actions turn things in this world. Also if they do not regret the things that cause harm then I feel sorry for them that they are not a person of compassion and one who could meet people on a deep level.” Exactly. And how do you go about convincing someone of the value of this if they haven’t learned it by 15? Surely it’s not too late.

  2. It’s upsetting to see how this generation is, The attitude is, well if it works for me. It’s a shame, because when you have that attitude, and the what’s true for me and what’s true for you attitude, there is no need of a savior. Scary, scary, scary.

  3. So what did you say to them about it? Seems like they’re just saying they’d rather live life without a conscience. But even if you try to turn it off, it’s still there. Eventually I think this just becomes a hardening of hearts and consciences. I hope God will use you to speak some Truth into these kids’ lives.

    • A hardening of heart can be a survival technique, unfortunately. I didn’t say much to them, but I think my furrowed brow and “Really?” “Really?” “Seriously?” probably said plenty. I’m still building trust with my current group, and it’s too early for me to say much directly. I can’t talk to them about loving people until they are convinced that I love them first. But yes, please pray for me to be used in their lives. I hurt for them when I think about living with that kind of disconnect from people.

  4. Ah the erin song. It is a classic. Thankful to read your thoughts. That article was fabulous, was definitely something I thought about alot in the Colorado days. Love you.

  5. Yes, super scary.

    I taught school from ’93-’95. The big push in education then was “no consequences”. Well, that’s not what it was called but it is what it was. I was not allowed to test or mark any written thing as incorrect. I could only circle good stuff. I wasn’t allowed to use a red pen. It might make the student feel poorly.

    I thought and knew then, it would yield a generation of adults with no work ethic and no respect for authority or recognition of consequences. It has happened!

    Seems we are still on the same track. There is a lack of awareness of how a person acts or what they say and how it affects those around them simply because it was “in the moment”.

    Makes me sad.

  6. Whoa. And also, a reminder that even though I’m unlikely to say any of those things out loud, how often do I believe a much more elaborately packaged version of them in my head? Jesus, come quickly. And in the meantime, help us to be humble and meek and most of all, peacemakers. And maybe some of those kids will see something beautiful in that and desire it in their own lives. It’s pretty amazing that he uses people as broken as us, eh?

    The Erin song. That DID happen. Remember that ridiculous answering machine message? Remember answering machines? Those used to exist. Huh.

    • Sometimes when I respond really slowly to a face-to-face comment, I say, “Sorry – what you said went to my answering machine.” And then I think, “My children have no idea what I just said.”

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