Mother’s Day and Dealing with My Regrets

Mother’s Day is one of those bitter-sweet events. For women who’ve ached and longed for a little one, but that longing is still unanswered, the day is a painful reminder of the empty womb. For others, the day holds sorrow because of the loss of their own mother, or the painful memories of childhood without a mother.

For me, Mother’s Day is a combination of joy and regret. I have regrets as a mom. There are a lot of things I would do differently now. Oh, I wasn’t a bar-hopper, I didn’t cheat on my husband or beat my kids, but I was a sinful mom.

I was selfish.

Sometimes I was lazy.

I procrastinated.

Often I was disconnected rather than intentional in my parenting.

My good intentions often ended in colossal failure.

I was harsh. I was emotional. I was way too tired much of the time.

I messed up.

I’ve never met a mom who didn’t have parenting regrets. I’ve never met a mom who felt she’d done everything right. Every prodigal’s mom I’ve ever met has expressed to me that, in some way, she was to blame. Even moms of “successful” children have parenting regrets. I’ve never met a mom who was totally satisfied with her efforts—even though most of the moms I know strive to do their best in raising their kids.

Moms that love Jesus, that want to cultivate an environment for their children to love and follow Jesus, even those moms mess up. Regret stalks the best of moms.

Regret is a wearisome task-master.

Regret is a wicked soul-minder.

Regret brings torment and despair. It rakes our soul across the cold ashes of past mistakes and enslaves us to the wasted toil of the worrisome “If only . . .” treadmill. When I get caught on that thing, I’m like a hamster on a wheel that keeps running and running, thinking I’ll finally get to the end of the road but instead, no matter how hard I run, I just keep circling the same regrets  that keep me running—never getting off or finding relief.

I’m unable to change what I’ve done and I’m unable to change the outcome, I’m only left with regret.

Know what I mean?

What do we do about that? Is that glorifying God when I climb on the “tread-wheel of regret?”

No, it isn’t.

God has provided us with some clear instruction for how to respond when regret creeps up on us:

[box]For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh, for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses. We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ . . .” (2 Cor. 10:3–5)[/box]

This passage warns us about the battle we’re involved in and explains how to use the weapon of truth against the enemy.

When my mind is filled with regret, it zaps me of all hope and plunges me into despair, because regret is something that focuses on a past action that can’t be repaired or undone. Regret is not the same as repentance at all. Repentance is turning from a current sin, changing our heart’s direction and turning fully to God. In contrast to that, regret is a morbid focus on past actions that cannot be changed—they’re finished.

Regret swallows my peace in the present and slays my hope for the future.

Regret overwhelms me with loss and painful self-condemnation.

Regret fills my mind with empty speculations because it centers on thoughts set in the context of “If only . . .” dreams that can never become reality. I can never go back and change what I’ve done, how I’ve parented, choices I’ve made. I can only make choices that affect today and the future.

But no matter how much I may want to, I can’t change the past. And pining for that zaps my emotional energy, drains me of courage for today, and sucks the desire to worship God right out of my soul.

Wallowing in regret isolates me and traps me in despair.

Dwelling on past regrets cripples my current relationship with God.

Tomorrow, I’ll provide you with the battle plan I use when regret threatens to drown me.

Are you struggling with regret? Ask the Father to flood your mind with truth, to fill your heart with confidence in His sovereignty and power to work in spite of your past mistakes. Ask the Spirit to provide you with hope for the future.

[box]Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you will abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. (Romans 15:13)[/box]

Image courtesy of patrisyu/


  • Nicole Vidal

    Kimberly, I read this post at lunch today and have come back to touch base with you. Last night I was on that treadmill of regret. In fact I have been on it frequently this last year. I am so weary of it and I have been struggling with how I can be free of this regret.
    Regret that my husband and I intentionally avoided pregnancy until he finished his bachelor’s degree…a 7 year wait…wishing instead that we would have been trusting in God’s provision and moved immediately ahead in bearing children. Regret also of how we handled monetary savings in our past. I am in the midst of reading Carolyn McCulley’s book “Radical Womanhood – Feminine Faith in a Feminist World”. I appreciate how she brings light to beliefs that many have blindly and unquestionably followed. One way I think that God can use my personal regret is to encourage other couples to move forward with growing a family and not waiting. But that honestly does not make my regretful burden any less regretful or personally saddening. Thank you for the reminder from scripture to take every thought captive. I look forward to learning of your battle plan that I may implement it in my own life as well.

  • Kimberly Wagner

    Hello, Nicole ~

    Thank you for honestly sharing your struggle with regret. I hope you found the blog posts and Scriptures helpful. So glad you’re reading Carolyn’s book, really good info there.

    I’m so glad you’re choosing to use your personal regret in a way that can help other couples to consider a different option than what the world promotes. The LOUDEST voice in the culture is calling for a halt on reproduction or at least limiting it severely. We need couples who are committed to producing followers of Jesus; parents who will invest spiritual truths in this next generation.

    Thanks for sharing your heart, Nicole ~