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two coffee lattes in yellow cup with saucer on brown wooden table
Picture of two cappuccinos in sunny yellow cups with heart-shaped froth in them on a dark-brown wooden-slat table. Next to the cups is a small picture frame, and inside it are the words, “Inhale the future, exhale the past.”

What do you call something that hangs around your neck, weighs you down, and clings like a parasite every day as you live your life? Please don’t say your spouse! I jest, of course. No, the answer is: pain from the past.

Maybe one day, scientists will discover that regret, guilt and shame are all forms of the same invisible substance that sucks the life out of you at the molecular level. Let’s give it a name, using the first two letters of each word: “Regush.” The way I envision it, this substance has the motility of plasma and the diffuse nature of vapor. 

Slights and daily difficulties normally bounce off you or pass through you, like water through a porous teabag; however, when there’s a build-up of Regush in your psyche, that negative energy sticks to you and slows you down. It’s as if the past has stayed with you and lodged itself into the cells of your soul.

The way to alleviate Regush is to do unto yourself as you do unto most others: give yourself the benefit of the doubt.

You did your best at the time, and you’re actually a different person now.

When you fully believe this to be true, you’ll start to treat yourself better in the here and now. Forgive yourself for what wasn’t your fault anyway. God has forgiven you for what actually was your fault. 

Regush (regret, guilt and shame) really is a thing of the past. Get past the past by loving yourself as you love God, and as God loves you. As for what you did when you didn’t know any better? Forgive it so you don’t have to re-live it.

So I bought a frozen pizza that was on sale for less than a dollar. Turned on the oven and put the pizza in to cook. Once it was done, I tried to pull it out of the oven, but it got stuck on the rack. After a struggle  to get it out of the oven, I was really hungry and took a bite. Instantly, I regretted it, as it was still too hot and it burned the roof of my mouth. To boot, it was flavorless, as if I was eating the box it came in. All that work and it tasted like cardboard.

And I thought, how many life experiences are like that?

You twist yourself into contortions for someone else (insert situation here: a peer group, a romantic interest, a potential employer, etc.) and end up looking back on it with regret. They didn’t like you anyway, even after you changed yourself to make them like you. And you didn’t like yourself in that context either. That wasn’t you.

When the past comes at you with all the weapons in its arsenal – shame, guilt, and regret – whip out the shield to fend off all efforts to get under your skin and into your soul: faith. Faith that every day is a clean slate and a chance to start again – on your own terms. Faith that the choices you made in the past were your best efforts at the time, and helped you build an acumen for action going forward. Faith in the fact that life is good and you deserve every good thing it has to offer.

And as for that negative narrator in your head, reminding you of times you’d just as soon forget? Put on your boots, kick it to the curb, and keep moving.

twain

 

Fresh StartIt’s a new year, and news programs are showing a retrospective of the previous year’s events. In a way, we do that to ourselves, thinking of all the things that have gone wrong, and making resolutions so we don’t make the same mistakes again.

Here’s what I think. Regret is a residue. A remnant of a time that no longer exists.

You wouldn’t feel sad if someone handed you a fossil and said, Here’s a rock from the Mesozoic Era. You’d say, Cool! An interesting artifact. After the fascination wears off, you’d think, Kay then. Can I sell it on e-Bay?

Guilt is a vice. By that I mean, of course, it’s a bad thing, but it’s also a grip that doesn’t let go until you pry it loose. It should be regarded as just as lethal as all the other vices that take hold of us: smoking, drinking to excess, drug abuse. Guilt takes years off of your life and takes the life out of your years.

If you harnessed all the energy wasted on guilt and regret, you might find you’re actually some kind of superhero!

You say you’re a stockbroker? Now you’re NumberGirl! Conquering the indecipherable industry of derivatives and diversification!  

A plumber? Now you’re ClogKing! Clearing clogs like nobody’s business! Making showerheads run at optimum speed!

Look out world!!

Well, that… or maybe you’ll just have enough zhoosh still left in your soul’s holster that you can create the kind of prayerful, peaceful life that was your heart’s desire all along.

Your life awaits, my liege! It’s yours for the taking. This is a brand spanking new year. What are you waiting for?

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