by Dr. Jack Hyles (1926-2001)
(Chapter 14 from Dr. Hyle's excellent book, Blue Denim and Lace)
How many times it has been said, "I didn't know how much I loved her," or I wish I had done more while he was alive." How sad are such statements. Instead of "I wish I had done it," why not substitute something like this: "I will not have to wish that I had done it." Look toward the future to the day when you will lose a relationship. Picture yourself without it; become prematurely nostalgic, and you will appreciate the relationship more in the present. This eliminates remorse, and remorse is the sting of nostalgia.
In Ecclesiastes 12:1 we have a man whose life had been lived with much of it being lived foolishly. Looking back over his life he had remorse. Let us notice how to take remorse out of the future.
1. Do everything on purpose. Say what you mean and mean what you say. Discipline the mind to control the emotions and the actions. Far too often we are prone to say things we do not mean. We do things caused by temporary emotional stimuli. We then find ourselves sorry in the future for our behavior. Because of this, one's mind and actions should be so disciplined that he will do everything on purpose. Hence, he leaves no room for remorse in the future.
2. Make relationships the most important thing in life. It is easy to use the patients to build a hospital, to use the pupils to build a school, and to use a family to keep a clean house. The purpose for the school is to educate the pupil. The purpose of the hospital is to heal the patient. The individual is all important! Therefore, one should see to it that relationships in life are more important than anything else. Relationships should be nourished and cultivated. They should not be made or perpetuated haphazardly. If human relationships have the proper places in our lives, then we will give more diligence and care to the treatment of our fellowman, thereby eliminating future remorse.
3. Do not "weigh" a person every day. Someone said, "I have changed my opinion about him." Then he should not have had an opinion. The person is what he was yesterday. He has not changed. The opinion was in error. The simple truth is that one does not have to have an opinion about people. If no opinion is formed, or if a careful, accurate, and objective opinion is formed, then the opinion will not have to be changed, and we will not be disappointed to find that a friend is imperfect.
4. Plan every relationship carefully. Each person has a few basic relationships in life. For example, I am a son, a husband, a father, a brother, and a friend. I must look carefully at these relationships and plan to be my best in each one. for example, for many years I planned to be a father. As a child, I looked forward to being a dad. My relationship as a dad has been one that has been calculated and planned with much prayer.
It is unbelievable, yet true, that we spend less time preparing for life's most important relationships. The theologian may spend seven to ten years in preparation. The medical doctor may spend even more than that. The school teacher spends many years in preparation, but the sad truth is that many of us spend little or no time preparing to be a wife, husband, brother, sister, mother, father, or friend. Each of us should become an expert in being what he should be in each of life's relationships. Much study, thought, and care should be exercised in becoming the best that one can become in each relationship of life. If such relationships are carefully planned, and if we do our best in becoming what we should become, then we will have no cause for remorse in years to come. If we do not do our best to become the best in every relationship, we may well spend many hours filled with remorse because we did not become all that we could have become to those who loved us.
5. Make every experience with every relationship a sacred one. Life is so brief, and no experience can be recalled. Because of this fact, each experience should be squeezed to its fullest. If we make the most of every relationship of life, and if we make the most of every experience of life's relationships, then there will be no remorse in days to come concerning failures. if we lackadaisically and haphazardly go through life not realizing the importance of our relationships and the depth of our experiences, we will wake up one day realizing the hours, days, and years that were wasted, at least partially, because the mind did not absorb the depth of life's experiences. Someday we will look back upon them and find that we did not take advantage of them. This causes remorse.
Yes, we should have premature nostalgia. We should look out into the future and predict what things could bring us remorse. We then should predict what causes such remorse and should set about immediately to eliminate them in the present and avoid the remorse in the future.
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