The Strange Blessing of Regret
I have said many times that when a person loves another, especially spouses and children, that person has signed a contract of pain. Even the overwhelming joy of love has the sorrow of wistfulness in it. Just remember that fabulous day at the beach years ago, for example. Love has so many ups and downs, insides and outsides, warps and woofs, that one can hardly tolerate its power in us. We are powerless over love. Certainly, no one can control it; anyone who attempts to control it, loses it. For sure, anyone who attempts to control love will limit its wild beauty and potentially destroy its habitat. It is too immense to be controlled and too simple to be improved upon. Love stretches to the stars and opens like a wild bloom of a flower no one planted.
Love stretches to the stars and opens like a wild bloom
of a flower no one planted.
Love is always a gift, and a gift I must surrender to if I am to have a full life—which love compels me to reach for. I have to receive love to know the humility and celebration of being fully alive. To receive the gift of love, even, compels the one who has received it to expand into offering love—not as a “have to,” but more as a “can’t help it.” It burns too much to hold it as a possession.
The words above are neither a nice metaphor to me, nor some ideal. They are a living, breathing reality. I have lived the words and clumsily persevered in them. I have been grown by the truth of them and deepened by living them.
I also have all the regrets of not being able to experience love well. Yes, love has in its greatness the capacity to experience regret. Regret is love missed, not spoken, not lived, love despised, mocked, or simply rejected. And in regret, if we have any humility or longing within us, is the blessing of knowing what I wish was different. It can move us to let love return. Regret offers us the ability to grieve deeply, seek forgiveness, make amends, right wrongs, apologize for that which we wish was better than what happened in the past—recent or long gone.
Regret offers us the ability to grieve deeply…
Regret comes from sensitivity and consciousness of love. It is very painful to see within our mind’s eye and heart’s desire the opposite of love or love withheld; however, regret can move us to take action with love again, even to love our own mistake-riddled lives. It can call us to move, reach, ask, seek, and knock on the door of seeking healing for our own heart-pain that love inevitably has in it.