Should’ve. Could’ve. Would’ve.
How many of you have used those words in a sentence? Recently? Perhaps they have become part of your daily vocabulary. Today, I want you to learn how to put aside these words in order for you to live in the moment and stop living a life of regrets.
We have all experienced situations where we wished the outcome had been different, wished different words had been expressed, or wished you had the confidence to take risks rather than let fear hold you back. But today is the day for you to turn things around. How? Through Christ’s help.
Before we delve deeper into how Christ’s help will free us from our regrets, let’s first talk about our focus song and artist: “Dear Younger Me” by MercyMe. Their very first song I heard was “I Can Only Imagine.” I cannot pin down the exact year that I did, but I do remember I was in middle school. Please take a moment to read about MercyMe here. This particular article was written a few years ago, but you may recognize some of the songs that are being highlighted. This year, they released their latest album, Lifer. Check out their official website here.
No matter how old or young we are, MercyMe’s “Dear Younger Me” applies to all of us. Here are two videos of the song. I recommend you watch the lyric video first. Click here for the lyric video. Click here for the other video.
This last video hit home the first time I watched it, and I knew I had to write a blog post about this particular song and topic. There have been numerous times in my life that I wanted to turn back time and do it over again. I love how “Dear Younger Me” allows us to ponder and have an internal conversation with ourselves warning us of difficulties ahead and how to avoid them. But then, we recognize that had we not had those experiences, we would not be the individuals we are today. Most of us allow the mistakes we have made to condemn us. The guilt gnaws at our heart day after day, year after year. We blame our situations on the mistakes we make and just won’t let go. Towards the end of the song, we recognize that we can give up these burdens. Christ carried our burdens with Him to the cross. He let them die at the cross. He rose the third day a glorified being with brand new life.
Christ knew we would make several mistakes, and sometimes make the same mistake over and over again. Some of us just learn the hard way. There comes a point in our lives where we no longer want to be chained down. We want to take off the chains that hold us down. We want to achieve a higher potential, be the best version of ourselves. When we reach that turning point, we realize that it is harder to make the change alone. Christ makes all things possible. He will show us the way.
Make a list of the things you would have a conversation about with your younger self. You can make this list as short or as long as you want. After you have made this list, look for recurrent themes or patterns. Then, get down on your knees, and ask the Lord for His help. Ask Him to help you let go of the guilt that accompanies any of the experiences that have held you back all of this time. Repent of any wrongs during this prayer. Ask Him to show you how to stop regretting your previous choices and how to start living your life to the potential He wants you to attain. End your prayer with gratefulness for His mercy, His atonement, and His love.
I lived with a lot of guilt and regret not so long ago over opportunities missed because I chose a different path. I would allow the guilt to overwhelm me. I would tell myself that I deserved the consequences of my actions and inactions, that I deserved the punishment of guilt. I was absolutely miserable. I could not find joy, I had low self-esteem, and I kept burying myself deeper and deeper by looking at all of my negative qualities. I stopped praying. I didn’t feel worthy to approach the Lord. Why would He want to listen to my complaints when He had warned me several times? I turned away from His counsel and decided to do things my way. I stopped reading His word because I was angry too. I tried to go at it alone. I isolated myself from those that cared about me. I knew they knew I had messed up. I was ashamed to face them. They knew how I had lived my life prior to getting off the path. I truly believed that I deserved nobody’s love.
I didn’t change my way of thinking in one day. It was a process. I started by reading His word again. His words pierced my heart. They reminded me of days long gone when I had searched the scriptures daily for comfort and advice. During my reading, I came across the following verses from The Book of Mormon:
1 Nephi 17:13-14
13 And I will also be your light in the wilderness; and I will prepare the way before you, if it so be that ye shall keep my commandments; wherefore, inasmuch as ye shall keep my commandments ye shall be led towards the promised land; and ye shall know that it is by me that ye are led.
14 Yea, and the Lord said also that: After ye have arrived in the promised land, ye shall know that I, the Lord, am God; and that I, the Lord, did deliver you from destruction; yea, that I did bring you out of the land of Jerusalem.
Those verses became a source of hope. They helped me realize that He knew the way ahead, wanted me to leave this life of regret behind, wanted me to find happiness again, and most importantly, wanted me to keep His commandments. I started to pray again. I asked for forgiveness for being angry. I thanked Him for allowing me to see it wasn’t too late to turn my life and perspective around. I resolved to do whatever He asked of me.
I was still spiritually weak. I kept falling into the regret and feeling of worthlessness loop every so often. But I could see that His hand was working in my life. He was pushing me in the right direction. I came to terms with myself that a particular situation I was in was damaging me, and I needed to leave before I drowned. It still took a while to take the steps necessary to do so because I had no self-esteem. But the day finally came when I felt God still loved me. After I felt that overwhelming love coming from above, I knew that it didn’t matter if no one else loved me as long as Heavenly Father loved me. This feeling slowly allowed my self-confidence to return and helped me make some difficult choices that would place me on the right path once again.
Months later, I found my old happy self, and we have stayed best friends ever since. We no longer live a life of regret because we know that:
God loves us
Repentance is real
He forgives and forgets…and so must we
The experiences we go through can make us stronger if we learn the lessons along the way
God can unlock our potential if we allow Him to
So the advice to my younger and future self is this:
Don’t live a life of regret because the chains that hold you captive can be broken through Christ’s help, and you can soar higher than you ever thought was possible.
I leave you with one last scripture to ponder, this time from the Doctrine and Covenants:
Behold, he who has repented of his sins, the same is forgiven, and I, the Lord, remember them no more.
Like what you read? Then you will also enjoy:
How to Walk on Water
How to Not Judge
Six Steps to Improving Our Trust in God
My Experience Singing with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir…Virtually