5 regrets of the dying.

I recently stumbled across this article which outlines the top five regrets of dying people.  Here is the list along with my thoughts:

#1: I wish I hadn’t sacrificed my dreams to meet other people’s expectations. 

The number one regret people had on their death beds was that they had let other people hinder their dreams.  Hmm.  Tricky.

Some of my mom friend’s had dreams of becoming powerful executives, and they’ve let those dreams die in order to fulfil the biblical expectations that they think God has for them as moms. I don’t think that will be a regret for them on their death bed.

On the other hand, one of my pals recently made a decision to move half way across the world to share the Gospel, and let me tell you, these were not the expectations that her family had for her.  They were devastated.  As tempting as it might have been, I think she will be so glad she didn’t sacrifice that dream to meet other people’s expectations.

My conclusion: I want to sacrifice every dream I have to submit to God’s expectations.  And I want to never sacrifice a dream that God shares in His Word in order to meet people’s expectations.

#2: I wish I hadn’t worked so hard.  

Sometimes it’s hard to tell if you are working hard for God or for success, approval and significance – especially when you’re in ministry or your job is taking care of your kids.  Here’s my litmus test: when God tells me to do one thing, and my ministry or work tells me to do something different, who do I obey?

  • God says take a sabbath, but your boss says he needs you to work on Saturday.  Who do you obey?
  • God asks you to cultivate your relationship with Him above all other relationships, but someone else wants to be your first priority. Who do you obey?
  • God calls you to faithfulness in the details, but your desire for success calls you to compromise in tiny ways to achieve the end result you want.  Who do you obey?
#3: I wish I’d been brave enough to be who I really am.

It recently occurred to me that if every single person I ever meet loves every single thing about me and never disagrees or is annoyed by me, then I’m probably not being the person God made me to be.

Because people are different.  And the only way to ensure you never annoy anyone is to adapt to whoever you’re around.

I’m not saying that we should be bratty and then chalk it up to personality, but I am saying that God made us all uniquely. And every time we adapt to please those around us we are declaring to the universe that our God is a poor creator; a bad artist.

It is a tremendously courageous act of obedience to be who God made you to be without fear of how you’ll be received.

#4: I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.  

Community is hard. Relationships with people are a lot like relationships with God: if you’re not fighting to move forward you are drifting apart.

There have been far too many times in my life when I’ve neglected my friends.  I wanted to be there for every bruised and broken person I saw. I wanted to be good at my job. And, while these are all great desires, I’m just not sure they’re supposed to trump my calling to be faithful with my primary community.

#5: I wish that I had let myself be happier.  
Fear of change had them pretending to others, and to their selves, that they were content, when deep within, they longed to laugh properly and have silliness in their life again.”

Ugh. I get this so much. I can feel inside of me this goofy optimistic little girl who longs to come out and play, but there are three things that keep me from letting her out:

  • I’m scared. I don’t know if people will give me the room to change.
  • I want to protect myself.  Optimistic, hopeful or happy people seem like they’re setting themselves up for disappointment.
  • I’m embarrassed.  I sometimes think ‘happy’ people seem naive or foolish.  I don’t want people to see me that way, so I feed my cynical side and squash my hopeful side.

We can’t save ourselves from regret through determination and hard work.  We need Jesus to cover our failings with His righteousness so we can walk boldly up to the throne of God and ask Him to spend our lives to His glory.

I want to live the kind of life that may end with pity from the world, but will bring me the joy of certainty that I have ‘fought the good fight of faith.’

That kind of joy eclipses any regret.

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