What do you wish you had never quit? I find that most people answer this question on a continuum – a scale of consequence.
I sometimes wish I had not quit playing saxophone in high school… It’s not a big deal, but I think about it when I hear someone play really well and I wonder at my potential. It’s not too late to pick it back up, but my priorities have shifted and playing an instrument doesn’t qualify in this season of life.
I also quit taking Spanish classes on three separate occasions: once in junior high, a second time in high school, and the third time in college. I always disliked learning another language, but fluency in Spanish would be extremely useful here in Los Angeles!
Many people answer this question on a deeper level. Several weeks ago, I spoke with a man who wished that he had not quit college. At the most profound, I’ve spoken with people who wish they had not quit on their marriage or faith.
We can all think of a few examples from our own experience.
Sometimes quitting is both necessary and healthy.
Other times, it’s not.
Pastors and therapists will tell you that people often quit while on the verge of breakthrough. In these cases, quitting rarely leads to the “sweet relief” we anticipate… Instead, it often leads to regret.
Life inevitably involves regrets because making mistakes is part of being human. But there is a great deal of potential regret that can be avoided if we choose to live intentionally.
What follows are two steps for standing firm against regret.
First, address the past.
According to scripture, as Christians, we are to consider ourselves a “new creation” (2 Corinthians 5:17). But that doesn’t mean our past choices don’t affect our present – or can’t affect our future.
Don’t live in the past, but don’t ignore it either.
Nowhere does the Bible suggest that we are to ignore the past. Either living in, or ignoring the past leads to inevitable destruction. In order to stand firm against regret, we first have to come to terms with the past.
To do so, start by making a courageous and realistic assessment of yourself. Identify your regrets and examine the attendant circumstances. Then ask the hard questions and answer them honestly:
- How did the regret come about?
- What role did I play?
- What could I have done differently?
- Does the regret stem from a destructive pattern of behavior, mindset, or addiction?
- What needs to change to mitigate the regret going forward?
- Can I deal with it myself, or do I need help?
Second, prepare for the future!
Here’s where armor bearers enter the picture. Our armor bearers help us see that our failures don’t define us and our mistakes can be overcome. In short, armor bearers help each other endure, and play an integral role in inoculating your future against regret.
At a mens gathering I recently attended, the speaker discussed endurance. He called it the most admired of all character traits, and I think he’s right. After all, they don’t make movies about quitting…
Every inspirational epic calls us to endure – to overcome.
But make no mistake; people who endure don’t do so alone:
“Prison is designed to break one’s spirit and destroy one’s resolve. To do this, the authorities attempt to exploit every weakness, demolish every initiative, negate all signs of individuality – all with the idea of stamping out that spark that makes each of us human and each of us who we are. Our survival depended on understanding what the authorities were attempting to do to us, and sharing that understanding with each other.
It would be very hard if not impossible for one man alone to resist. I do not know that I could have done it had I been alone. But the authorities’ greatest mistake was keeping us together, for together our determination was reinforced. We supported each other and gained strength from each other.”
– Nelson Mandela
There is no question that we need each other in the face of adversity. You may never endure decades of imprisonment and martyrdom, but you will experience decades of life – and it will be filled with overcoming or regret.
We too have an adversary who seeks to stamp out our God-given spark – to steal, kill, and destroy. And we cannot endure alone because we were not created to live in isolation.
Instead, we need each other. We need armor bearers to help us objectify our circumstances, understand them, and make wise decisions. Armor bearers aren’t just about protection. They help us press on. We gain strength from our armor bearers and together, we endure.
Standing firm against regret.
Our enemy’s greatest victory comes when he succeeds at isolating us. It’s impossible for us to overcome trial and resist temptation in isolation.
But together… That’s a different story.
Together, we overcome – and stand firm against regret.
Editor’s Note: This post is part of a series on ‘armor bearing friendship‘ – the subject of an upcoming book by Jer Monson and Steve Gerali. Your thoughts will help us shape the book, so be a part of the conversation in the comments below. You can also subscribe to stay connected to new posts on armor bearing. When you do, you can download a FREE copy of Jer’s ebook, 12 Ways to Maximize Your Next Twelve!
Leave a Comment: In the face of regret, how have your armor bearers helped you endure? Or, if you regularly try to go it alone, what keeps you isolated? What keeps you from being an armor bearer and surrounding yourself with armor bearers?