Regrets can suffocate a mom, threaten to steal the joy right out from within her. A mother can tally up those things like she’s keeping score. She can string each one, a bead at a time and then wear them around her neck like an albatross. My oldest is six, so I haven’t logged even a decade of motherhood yet, but I have some regrets stacking up already.
Just the other night, my son walked with dog bowls in hand toward the pantry. His arms wavered slightly as he set the bowls on the counter, then he turned, and I caught his eye. As his lip trembled, and the tears spilled from his eyes, I felt overwhelming regret consume me. Just moments before I had barked orders at him. We were running late, the baby was crying, dinner needed to be on the table, and I was feeling the pressure. I let the stress fill me up, and then I poured it out on him.
My boy is tender hearted, gracious, compassionate. It cuts him to the core when I use a harsh tone. So why do I do it? Why do I let the stress of the day boil over and take it’s toll on the ones I love most? I wrapped my arms around him almost immediately; I got down on his level and asked for forgiveness. Our relationship was mended, but I went to bed that night with regret eating at me.
The apostle Peter had regrets too. Christ foretold Peter he would deny him. But Peter was adamant, not him. Never.
But just hours after confessing his devotion, Peter does the very thing he vowed he wouldn’t do. He denies Jesus in His deepest hour of need … not once, not twice, but three times. Then the rooster crows, searing regret into Peter’s core, and he weeps bitterly.
If Peter—the man in Jesus’ inner circle—had regrets, you and I are bound to have them too. Mistakes in life, missteps in work, wrongs in relationships, misgivings in mothering. The question then is what do we do when these regrets arise?
What do we do when harsh words are spoken, spirits deflated, hearts crushed, souls wounded? How do we respond when tears fall from little ones’ eyes or doors slam at the hands of a frustrated teen? How do we move beyond the all-consuming regret that results from those situations and into reconciliation and redemption?
Peter could have remained in his regrets. He could have wallowed in the sorrow of his denial of Jesus, and it could have rendered him useless for the Kingdom. This denial could have been the last we heard of Peter. His ministry could have ended here.
But it didn’t. Why? Because Jesus …
After his resurrection, Jesus appears to the disciples and asks Peter a direct question. Not once, not twice, but three times. “Simon son of John, do you love me?” And three times Peter affirms Him, one answer of affirmation to redeem each denial.
Peter’s regret was one that only Christ could redeem. And Christ indeed did just that. Jesus sought Peter, He reconciled Peter to himself, and then He used Peter to influence the Kingdom for eternity. Peter knew what it meant to have regrets, and he knew what it meant to have those regrets redeemed. It was this experience that enabled Peter to became a conduit of grace to so many others.
You and I have that same opportunity. When mama guilt threatens to consume us, we can give in to the regret. We can let it eat away at us, gnawing into our heart, or we can give it to Jesus. If we give it to Jesus, we’ll find that He redeems our regret and transforms it into a tool of grace and redemption that we can’t help but spill out onto our own children and others. We can extend forgiveness, show mercy, pour out lovingkindness only because we have been recipients of it first. When face to face with Jesus, our regrets suddenly transform from marred mistakes into tools of His mercy. So whatever your regrets may be—even if they’re strung as beads upon a thread worn heavy around your neck—drop them at the feet of Jesus and allow Him to bring forth redemption.
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