The priest stood before the congregation and said, “God forgives you! Be at peace!” On another Sunday she said, “God forgives you. Forgive others; forgive yourself.”
With these powerful words, the congregation experienced the hope of Good Friday again. Our sins, our failures, our mistakes are not counted against us. God does not want us to carry this sort of burden. God wants us to experience a new and better life.
Many people go through life carrying the huge baggage of mistakes they have made. It gets in the way of them living a happy and purposeful life. They regret their action or inaction. I have done something wrong, or I have failed to do something right. I am disappointed when I have upset someone. I am troubled when I have harmed them.
Helpful regret comes from acknowledging we have not kept our values. I have done the wrong thing. I have been unkind. I have shown up late. I have been careless.
Where do your values come from?
There are people who have clear values and follow them. Others don’t think about their values much. Others don’t worry much if they break a rule or two. There is room for healthy regret. It can help make us a better person. It can help us build healthier communities.
What regrets do you think about when you read this article?
It is important to hear that not every feeling of regret is helpful or correct. Did you hear that ‘children should be seen and not heard?’ Did someone tell you ‘women should be silent?’
You may have a wrong sense of regret. Someone has discouraged you from being yourself. They didn’t teach you well.
It is a good idea to check whether our sense of regret comes from ignoring our values or someone else’s values.
People often live by the values their parents taught them. People may learn new values at school, at church, or in their work. It is helpful to know where our values come from.
We have six values in Newcastle Anglican. They are – wisdom, compassion, faith, integrity, courage, and justice. These values come from the Christian story. The way of Jesus inspires these values. These values come from the bible and church teaching. These values are taught as virtues by positive psychologists. They affirm people’s strengths. Our values guide the work we do and the way we behave.
Have I done the wrong thing?
You might decide that your behaviour has broken your values. I haven’t done a good thing. I have done something bad.
It is good to own up to our actions. Sometimes we can repair the damage we have done. We can say sorry. We can make a commitment to do better in the future.
Going to see a person we have hurt is not always the right thing. We need to check. We can ask ‘will it help them if they see me or speak to me?’
The Easter Message
Christians believe that we grow distant from God when we do the wrong thing. We grow closer to God when we do the right thing. Christians believe that we want to be close to God.
We feel regret when we fail someone or hurt them. We know that this separates us from God.
We know that we are not perfect and that we make mistakes. We also know that we make choices. Some are good and some are bad. Our mistakes and bad choices can separate from us God.
The Easter story makes this better.
Christians teach that in Jesus we see God. Jesus was God in human form. God living among people. We hear stories about him. He was a good man who empowered women and welcomed children.
The Christian story is that people punished Jesus. It is a horrible story filled with cruel behaviour. Jesus taught people about love. People rejected him and killed him.
Christians believe that when Jesus died, he took on the punishment for all the wrong things in the world. He did this to remove any separation from God. He did this to forgive our sins.
You do not need to live with shame. Your regrets don’t need to consume you.
• God’s values inspire your values
• You recognise when you have done the wrong thing
• You do the right thing
• You know that God forgives you