The experience of regret is positively awful. We live our lives doing the best we can, yet in certain circumstances and relationships, things don't always turn out well. What could we have done differently, we wonder. The nature of regret is that the time to correct a situation has past. Regrets must be lived with and accepted.
Hospice workers offer an interesting window into the nature of regret. Those that work with the dying hear from the dying about matters of great substance. Those close to the dying hear about regret and the regrets are remarkably similar.
1-I wish I lived true to myself and my dreams, rather than the life others expected of me.
2-I wish I had balanced work better with my relationships.
3-I wish I had been more courageous and shared my feelings with others.
4-I wish I had stayed in touch with friends.
5-I wish I had let myself be happier.
(smartequalssexy.wordpress.com. By T Kelly)
These five themes speak to the essence of personhood and authentic humanity. We are created as individuals, we are made for relationships, and those relationships are to be environments of honesty and safety. Finally, our sense of fulfillment hinges on our willingness and courageousness to embrace all the above.
We are often, however, tempted to be and do less. We accept the overlay of others to the detriment of our dreams and passions. We often allow the definition of success prescribed by others to sway us from what we believe is right and dare I say, faithful.
We are tempted to throw ourselves into being productive and successful, while our friends and intimates don't get enough of us. Too often we don't reveal enough of our innermost selves to those for whom we have the deepest of affection. Too often we let people we care about slip in and out of our lives from lack of attention or some perceived slight. Sins of omission and commission.
In all of it, we are tempted to be less than we are.
This first Sunday of Lent focuses us on Jesus and his temptation. The Gospel of Mark merely enters the temptation by title. Matthew and Luke give us the detail we remember, it may be that the detail was so well known in the telling, Mark doesn't feel the need to rehearse it. We know the temptation of Jesus was the offering of a full belly, the manifestation of divine power in vain and wealth and power.
Jesus answers all the temptations quoting the book of Deuteronomy. Jesus invokes the Torah, the very core of the Jewish identity to rebuff the temptations. Jesus goes to the heart of the tradition that illustrates the dynamic relationship between God and Israel. Identity, passion, honesty and fulfillment are found at that core.
The temptation for Jesus is to be less than he is.
That is the temptation we face as well.
The good news is that in Christ we find the way away from the path of living for self alone. In Jesus, we find another way, a way toward fullness and abundance, rather than less. The good news is that God gives us grace and messengers that minister to us, that we might grasp more with no regrets.