Don’t regret your past?

I had a conversation with a friend of mine on facebook I thought I would share.

I have often been berated for regretting my past. People have said to me ‘you shouldn’t regret what you have done, because it makes you who you are’. But I disagree. How do I know, I might have been a better person had I not done those things. I also think it is important for everyone to realise what wrong they have done, and take responsibility for it.

Anyway: here is the conversation (it is copied from Facebook, so there will be typos!):

Anon: Hey: Ruth, i just wanted to ask having just read your bit of writing entitled Luke (insert verse here sorry!) about emotion and preaching and cam across something i have been meaning to ask you for ages but totally forgot until being prompted by that piece.

When you were at university and obviously kind of strayed from your previously otherwise strong views, and obviously having almost a taste of what it was not to believe as such (I’m not saying you didn’t at all i just cant think of how to describe it otherwise as i have a rather loud Kai yelling at me haha) did you find this a valuable lesson? Obviously after doing so you decided that God was the right path for you and i dont know enough about the bible to know what its teachings are regarding doing so but did you personally find it was valuable for you, to go and not live within what i would describe as religious confines (i know you won’t see them as that and i also don’t mean it in a bad sense!) I was just interested 🙂

Ruth: Hey mate! I love being asked questions like this! I would say that I wish I had never done it. I think my life would be better now if I had not made the choices that I did. I think these days we like to say, ‘you wouldn’t be you without learning from your mistakes’, but we forget that our mistakes damage us too. I have suffered with anxiety and depression for years as a result of some of the stuff i put into my body. We often don’t stop to think that maybe we would have been an even better person if we didn’t make those mistakes in the first place. So overall I deeply regret it. However, that is all the negative. Even though I have not enjoyed the consequences of my actions, I have learnt things that I wouldn’t have otherwise. And I’ve meet people that I wouldn’t have been able to relate too before – such as yourself. So in another sense there are things about it that have developed me I’m a good way. But even so, I’d never use that to justify the things I did. I hope that makes sense. I think God can redeem anything – but that process can be quite painful, and I would spare other people that. Much love mate xxxxx

Anon: Haha! I thought you might 🙂 Yeah that makes sense, so do you think because of your beliefs you may have been somewhat guarded in people you would have spoken to?I just mean because i have never been judgmental of anyone and i could never imagine being so but would you say that previously religion has made you so?

Also, I mean for me i don’t do drugs anymore either but for me doing them i take as a good experience and lesson even the bad experiences, i mean i have a really bad memory now which i put down to drug use and it slightly annoying but i don’t feel i as a person through drugs have come off any worse, alcohol on the other hand i totally regret drinking so much and doing some of the things i did whilst drunk. And i have learnt the hard way through that and yes i agree sometimes it has been very painful to go through. But then i also wonder if my life would have been any different without these things either, obviously they have acted as a accelerant to some situations but….

I just like to understand because i do value you as a friend and i know we have different values but i think we are a bit more similar than you think, we have both changed and i never mock something because i dont understand it 🙂 xxx

Ruth: Ha! I love this. So, the first thing you mention is: would I be more guarded in my approach to people if I hadn’t experimented when I was younger? Well not really, I think I always wanted to get to know people – I think I found them more interesting and excited If they were different. So I dint think my experimentation made me any less open to anyone. What it did do was enable me to understand where they were coming from. So for example, if one of my mates wants to talk to me about sex, drugs … Etc I can relate – and I think that can help people. I have a friend who has a bit of addiction to K. I was able to understand it and chat to her. If I hadn’t have experimented it, I wouldn’t have been guarded about, I just wouldn’t have been able to understand as well. Hope that makes sense.


  1. #1 by Edward Rhodes on December 6, 2012 - 5:03 pm

    Thank you, as always, for your honesty in these articles.

    Whilst, as you know, I cannot relate directly to some aspects of what you have shared here, I too have had cause to regret and to ponder my regret in the last few years and have even written a number of poems on the subject, not all of which have been bad. I agree with you that it is important for us to take responsibility for our actions and decisions, and the harm which they have caused to others and to ourselves, and to learn from them.

    The main problem that I have with regret, though, is that it seems to me to be a close cousin of worry (to which I am also prone), but with the added twist that the events which are causing the anxiety have already happened and are, thus, beyond the possibility of change, however much we may fret about them.

    I can relate to your point about learning things through past experiences. For example, I might not have had as much sympathy and compassion for people who are struggling in some areas, and whose lives aren’t as shiny and lovely and perfect as I would wish them to be in my more critical moments, had I not made certain choices. That is not to say that I don’t still struggle with prudish, prurient, pointy-figured judgementalism (alas I do), but I might have been even worse! I might also have paid less attention to the therapeutic aspects of salvation (the need for healing and restoration and reconciliation) compared to the judicial aspects (the being declared not guilty and delivered from individual ill-desert).

    Did those choices make me the person I am? Am I a better person for them? I don’t know. I am a finite creature constrained by linear time. I cannot see for certain even the path that I have taken let alone the ones that I might have taken instead. But I believe that God truly knows my “would’ve beens” and my “could’ve beens” as well as my “weres” and “ares” and “will bes” and that he still loves me, in spite of them all.

    In other words, I agree.

    Once again, thank you.


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