Avoiding regrets is something most of us singles don't think about when we're young. We do what feels good in the moment, seldom considering the future.
But a conscious effort to make decisions that won't come back to haunt you later can prevent so, so much heartache.
Is that a dull way to live? Does it take all the fun out of life if you're constantly worried about making a mistake? After all, isn't life about experimenting and taking chances?
So how do you draw the line between being a fuddy-duddy and being a person who lives life to the fullest?
One simple solution stands out when it comes to refraining from things you'll be sorry for later: As soon as possible, you have to decide in life who you'll serve. Will you serve yourself and your own worldly desires, or will you serve God, whose constant goal is what's best for you?
The Bible hero Joshua put it this way:
"But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.” (Joshua 24:15, NIV)
Those "gods," with a small "g" that he mentions are still around today, but in different forms. Here are some of them:
We all have to work. We all have to
eat. We need transportation to get around. Clothing and possessions
are not evil in themselves. It's what we do to get them and what
captures our attention.
Growing up in the 1960s and 70s, I was something of a Puritan compared to other people my age. I didn't drink, smoke, or use drugs. I dated only Christians.
Today, at age 63, I don't have any regrets about that period of my life. Everybody my age can't say that. I chose to serve the Lord. That's always the best choice you can make.
Where we get in trouble is listening to the loud voice of our culture. All of us want to fit in. And, we figure, everybody else is doing it. What's the harm if I do too?
That's the exact kind of reasoning of people who become alcoholics, drug addicts, infected with STDs, and those who find themselves bankrupt.
One of the most dangerous beliefs in life is,
"It won't happen to me."
Everybody who gets in trouble thinks that at the beginning. They make the wrong choice and one thing leads to another. Their life spirals out of control. They desperately wish they could go back and unmake that decision, but by then it's too late.
We all wish we could predict our future. Amazingly, God gave us a tool that can help you do just that. It's called the Ten Commandments.
"Wait!" you're thinking. "Are you talking about those killjoy rules that don't let you have any fun?"
That's the "glass half empty" view of them. The "glass half full" view is that they're a tool to keep you from making mistakes. Following the Ten Commandments means avoiding regrets.
If you're in your 20s or 30s when you read this, some day you'll look back on your life and wish some things had turned out differently. We all do.
I've discovered that we have control over some situations but don't have control over others. I had control over what I did with my body. I had no control over getting cancer.
I had control over obeying or disobeying the law. I had no control over the economy that once caused me to be laid off from a good job.
We have control over the choices we make. We don't have control over many things that happen to us, however. We can regret making a bad choice, but we can only feel sad about things out of our control. Looking back, we are to blame for our God-dishonoring choices. We're not to blame for things out of our control, and there's a world of difference when you reflect on them.
I regret I wasn't more proactive in looking for a spouse. I don't regret being laid off from that job; it wasn't my fault. You can avoid remorse when you understand the difference between the things in your past that were your fault and those that were not.
Life beats you up plenty. You don't have to
add to it with poor choices.
Many singles act without thinking ahead. Use your imagination. Use your common sense. Remember: Every action has consequences.
Use your mind. Ask "IF I DO THIS, THEN THE RESULT WILL BE…" The result may be harmless. It may even be positive. But if it could be bad, DO NOT allow yourself to rationalize, "It won't happen to me."
Romans 8:28-29 tells us God takes our bad choices and works them in our favor, but it's up to us to learn the lesson. It's up to us to quit making bad choices. And it's up to us to follow his trouble-preventing Ten Commandments. None of us can follow them perfectly. I can't and you can't. But they are important guides to show us what works and what doesn't in life.
Avoiding regrets is simple, really. A good future comes from making wise choices in the present.