What Can We Do With Regrets of the Past?


To anyone else this brick may seem like any other ordinary brick — nothing really special.

But this ordinary, nothing special brick sits on my deck as a reminder of where I come from— a place where my early years formed who I am.

We dug this brick up from the sidewalk leading to my Grandfather’s print shop.

As a little girl, I remember grass and clover growing up between the cracks of that sidewalk. I would pull all the growth out and clear the path leading to the door.

In my memories, I can still smell the scent of clover from the small flowers.  This same clover grows in my backyard and when my feet kick up the aroma it takes me right back to that place at 407 Matthew St.

At one time I couldn’t wait to get out of that small town.

As a teenager that town was too slow and held nothing in terms of excitement. We spent hours cruising the loop, burning up time and gasoline. Graduation couldn’t come fast enough.

I was ready to leave behind days of not-so-great choices. Ready to have a fresh start with new experiences and new friends. I left behind those things and began again somewhere new. Letting my own stories of regret and stupid teenage choices be covered over in the soil of a small town.

But each time I returned, those feelings were dug back up. I feared running into people who knew me from before. Ones who knew me back then compared to who I am now. What would they say? What would I say?

We all have things in our past we would rather keep buried. Things we wish were not a part of who we are.

This simple brick reminds me those things and that place are a part of who I am but not ALL of who I am. They are just a part of the person I am today.

Sometimes we may look at our lives and think, “I don’t like that brick! It doesn’t fit into how I see my life being built. I’d rather take it out and use a different brick. I want a different brick to fit in that space.

But God says, “I use it all and waste nothing.”

And in Him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by His Spirit. ~~ Ephesians 2:22

It’s taken me a long time, a lot of tears and a lot of prayers to be okay with certain bricks in my foundation. Those choices and situations are bricks of regret I’d like to dig out, crush to dust and scatter to the wind never to affect me again. But I can’t.

We can, however, let God transform those mistakes and regrets into a beautiful grace-filled part of who we are today.

This is how we can do that:

  • Be thankful for the bricks – Some circumstances of life that are hurtful and damaging we are never going to be thankful for in the sense of “Boy, let’s choose that again!” because no one ever would. But we can be…
    • thankful that God brings us to better places.
    • thankful for the healing and restoration God can do in our life
    • and thankful for the grace given to us so we can extend grace to others.
  • Trust God’s Building Plan – Ephesians 2:22 reminds us we are being built as a dwelling where God’s Spirit lives. Our life circumstances, choices and situations are bricks that build our lives. Good choices and poor choices make up who we are now. God can take all those choices and use them for good.  When we trust Him with our yesterdays, todays and tomorrows we’ll discover He has a good plan.
    • And where we think we’ve messed up, He can work it right into the framework of who we are.  Through His work of redemption and grace, those weak places can be made into places of strength where His Spirit dwells. When we trust Him with these things He restores what is broken in our foundation and makes it a place of strength.
  • Allow the flaws in our dwelling tell His story of grace – I sometimes think, “How nice it would be to go back in time and re-do my life with the knowledge I have now.” — For one, I wouldn’t wear that baby blue eyeshadow for my 8th grade school photo! — If I could go back I would work harder in school. I wouldn’t waste all my paper route money on Casey’s Donuts and over-priced fashion trends that would be gone before the end of the year. I would be a better friend. I would be a better daughter. I wouldn’t date the boys I did and I would find Dave quicker at college so I could marry him sooner.

But we know that changing all that, making different choices, with a different timeline wouldn’t make things perfect. We’d still have troubles and regrets because we’re imperfect people in an imperfect world.

As much as we would like to change certain things in our past, those bricks — flawed, broken, cracked and ill-fitting — show God’s grace and mercy in our lives.

We can walk with others better because we know our own broken path and how God’s grace has worked in it.

We can let the flaws in our bricks tell His story of grace in our life.

God builds our lives brick by brick. He forms those bricks through our experiences, sets them into place and builds them into a beautiful life of grace where His Spirit dwells.

Today I’m praying you find His beauty in your life and His grace for your days ~~~

Love to you ~Rachel

5 thoughts on “What Can We Do With Regrets of the Past?

  1. Thanks Rachel! Recently, Holy Spirit gave me these words that have become somewhat of a mantra for me. “Your past will influence who you are, but it does not have to determine who you are.” Thanks Holy Spirit! With your help, I still have choices.

    Liked by 1 person

    • That is so true! Our past is a part of who we are but not all that we are. And I am learning how our mistakes and regrets of the past can help us love people better when they are facing similar choices because, in the light of God’s grace, we can understand where they are, and help them make better choices and walk with them in the journey towards a better tomorrow. Thanks for jumping in and sharing your thoughts with us. I always enjoy hearing from you! Blessings and love to you! 🙂

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  2. Praise God for His grace and INFINITE MERCIES!!!! ❤❤ Knowing that God “uses it all and wastes nothing”…. can also help us in those times when past can get dredged up…however it might happen. Knowing God, my Father loves us beyond our failures and regrets of the past, and will use it all for His glory, can set our minds at ease, to live with His purposes in mind. NOTHING BETTER!!!

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  3. Rachel thank you for this reminder. I always find such deep truth in your writing. I am particularly struck by the idea that our past is PART of who we are but not the WHOLE and that thank God we are becoming in Him and his grace and mercy! Thank you for this.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you! I am also so very grateful that our past is just a part of us. I have found that sometimes when I am discouraged I put too much emphasis on remembering all the ways I have failed and messed up instead of remembering that, “Yes, I’m not perfect but I am progressing in faith” I believe God can take our failings and bring good from them when we trust Him and continue walking with Him. Thank you for jumping in and sharing! Blessings ~ Rachel

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