I have lived enough of my life thinking about the past that I will be the first to say that it is a waste of time. The sooner you let go of the past, the sooner you can get on to living life. No whining; no bitching; no complaining. Living life responsibly and to the fullest.
With that said, the only reason to think about the past is to teach and help others avoid some of the same pitfalls. Rick Warren states in his Purpose Drive Life book that out of your greatest pain can come your greatest points of service. So, with that said, here are my 3 regrets in life. I’m not looking for a do-over (except maybe #1). I’m just stating my facts.
1) I Would Not Have Had Lasik Surgery. In January 2009 I had lasik. Huge mistake. I had thought about having for a few years, and finally did it. I couldn’t be more disatisfied with my current vision. It’s not as if the surgery went bad. In fact, it went perfect.
My left eye was 20/80, and my right eye was 20/20. Now, my left eye is 20/12. I only had surgery on one eye. I hate it. Lasik took away the God-created ability to focus because with Lasik you are given a set focal length. Anything outside of that focal length is blurry. So, as I type this blog post, my left eye is mostly focused, and my right eye is blurry. If my monitor was 3-4 inches further away, both eyes would be blurry.
I’m not going to go on and on about this, but the only way to fix this is to get glasses… which is precisely why I had Lasik to begin with. Lasik is not a reversable surgery. I’m stuck with what I have now.
Lesson Learned – don’t mess with surgeries that alter one’s body, especially something as important as one’s vision.
2) I Would Not Have Left Africa. I’m not going to spend the next 5,000 words describing what has happened in my life since coming home from Africa in September 1996. To summarize it in it’s crudest form – I had dreamed of Africa for at least 12 years of my life; I left for Kenya as a missionary with my wife and 2 girls. I quit part way into my first term and came back to America. I abandoned much more than my dream.
It’s a regret, yes, and it had enormous ramifications on my life, but this is definitely one thing in my life I would not want as a do-over. Too many things I have learned about life have come out of this, and although it was extreamely painful, the wisdom and blessings that have come out of that time in my life are irreplaceable.
Lesson Learned – I had my whole identity wrapped up in this – “I am a missionary to Africa.” When I was no longer a missionary to Africa, I wandered for 7 or 8 years trying to find a new identity. You see, there is something very powerful about the words “I AM.” I believe that is why God chose that as His name in the book of Exodus. There are definitely some things that I want as my identity:
- I am a Christian
- I am a husband
- I am a father
- I am a man
But, I will no longer say things that I do not want to wrap into my identity. It is dangerous. I will not say, I am a business owner, or I am a computer programmer. I don’t want my identity wrapped up in that. It may be what I do, but it is not who I am.
3. Working Too Much. I work way too much. Working too much makes you a very boring person, your life becomes too predictable, and you lose pieces of your personality over time.
The obvious reasons of not spending enough time with my 3 kids, dates with Traci, and spending more time doing things I used to love, such as fishing, golfing, hiking outdoors, driving, biking, playing sports, landscaping, etc. are at the forefront of my mind when I state this regret.
Lesson Learned – Simply stop. Put systems in place for my business that will free up hours of time from my weekly schedule… and I mean lots of hours. Owning your own business and working from home is certainly better than being an employee of some company. I love my freedom. However, I have become a slave to my business and the time to stop is today.
Anyway… there you go. My big 3 regrets. If I wanted to depress myself and really punch myself in the gut, I could have listed regrets such as not sharing my faith enough, not reading enough books, not studying Revelation enough, not exercising enough, not…. but… that’s unproductive and foolish. These 3 are enough. They are a part of my life, a part of my past. Living in regret is different than living, reflecting on one’s past, to mature and grow in wisdom… and simply not to repeat the same stupid stuff.