Years ago, when I was still in college in Ohio, I’d go home during the summer to find a temporary job.
At the beginning of my senior year I talked with another music major in the conservatory about what we’d done for our summers. I had worked at a self-serve gas station. My friend told me about her three months working at a national park in Montana. She had cleaned rooms and served food at a lodge. During her free hours, she and some other music theater students had rehearsed skits and songs that they later performed for some of the guests at the lodge. My friend looked refreshed and happy. She fairly glowed as she told me about her experiences.
As she told me what her summer had looked like, I felt a huge sinking inside my chest. I had missed out on an exciting opportunity where I could have used my musical talent, gained some valuable experience, and enjoyed a season living in one of the country’s most beautiful parks.
Why hadn’t I done more research about the possible summer jobs for college students? Why hadn’t I been at the right place at the right time to hear about national park jobs? (This was way before one could do a google search on the computer.)
Of course, this wasn’t the first, or the last time I would miss out on an opportunity.
I’ve thought to myself many times that it’s not the things I’ve done I regret; it’s the things I haven’t done that haunts me, and might plague me at the end of my life.
Today, most of the times when I miss out it’s because I’m living on auto pilot. When I forget to live intentionally, and fearlessly:
- to really hear when people talk
- to ask questions everywhere I go
- to reflect on what’s the very best that I can do, (I always find this “best” in the Bible.) not just what’s okay, or good enough
- to pray to God each day: “What do you have for me to do this day? I’m listening.”
- to obey God’s gentle nudge to volunteer, join, phone, invite, help, host, befriend, etc.
I don’t want to look back with regret. To kick myself because I was too afraid, or too unwilling to give up some emotional or physical comfort in order to respond to God’s call to do my “best.”
I remind myself every day: It’s not usually what I do that I regret (okay, maybe sometimes); it’s what I don’t do that fills me with regret.
Five ways to avoid regret?
Hear, Ask, Reflect, Pray, Obey.