Read Psalm 137:1
1 By the rivers of Babylon—
there we sat down and there we wept
when we remembered Zion. (NRSV)
Many of us have lived long enough to have a regret or two. If only we had taken that road rather than the one we took. If only we had accepted that offer rather than declined it. If only we had not sent that email; if only we had made that phone call.
The people of Israel exiled in Babylon were overwhelmed with regret. Their temple, their city, their culture, their communities, had all been taken from them. They were suffering the consequences of their disobedience. They chose to defy their God and were experiencing the consequences of the choice.
What might it have been like if they had stayed faithful? In our lives, what might it have been like if we had not given up on that relationship, if we had heeded certain advice, if we had not ignored that pain in our body or mind?
We can be swamped with regret, with wondering about what might have been. In the end it is all rather pointless. We cannot change our history: we own it and learn from it. We cannot rewrite the pattern of our days: we rather weave that imperfect pattern into our present days and accept we are a product of our past decisions or indecisions.
We cannot undo the past. We want to avoid condemning ourselves to a bleak future because of our past. Our God is a God of new beginnings. Regrets litter our lives but they must not dominate them. Ultimately, what might have been is not as important as what might yet be.