If you are a single mother and find yourself living with regret, I hope you know you are not alone. But you don’t have to continue thinking about your life with regret. The Shriver Report polled 3,500 adults in 2013 to learn: “Low-income women and single moms are more likely to live with regret.”
When asked what they wished they had done differently, they were more likely to:
- Regret not investing more time and money in school,
- Regret not delaying marriage,
- Regret not leaving a bad relationship sooner,
- Regret not delaying having kids, and even
- Regret having kids at all.
According to Melanie Greenberg, Ph.D. in a Psychology Today article, “Regret is a negative cognitive/emotional state that involves blaming ourselves for a bad outcome, feeling a sense of loss or sorrow at what might have been or wishing we could undo a previous choice that we made.”
In Luke 9:62 we read, “Jesus replied, ‘No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God.’”
Imagine you are plowing a field. If you look back, your rows will become crooked and you will not be looking in the direction you are headed.
So if you are living with regret, look ahead, not back. Make plans for your future and the future of your children. Think forward, not backward.
You may be saying, “But Gail, you don’t know what I’ve been through, you don’t know what he did to me, you don’t know what I’ve lost. How can I possibly not think about those things?”
That may be true. However, thinking about them is one thing; dwelling on them, letting them take over your life is another.
As a single mom you may experience regret over the loss of a marriage, for whatever reason. You might regret your choices of men in your life. You could simply regret staying too long in an abusive situation. These regrets can help you make better decisions in the future. Through regret you can learn to have better insight and make better choices. Prolonged self-judgment does not make your life better.
There is an old Chinese proverb that states, “You cannot prevent the birds of sorrow from flying over your head, but you can prevent them from building nests in your hair.”
If you are spending precious energy regretting, you will not have the energy you need to build a future for yourself and your children. Several single moms I’ve coached have gone to college and earned a degree. Not only did this give them a stronger sense of self-worth, it also erased regrets.
We know and are taught in Scripture that judging others is wrong. Matthew 7 in The Message makes it clear: “Don’t pick on people, jump on their failures, and criticize their faults — unless, of course, you want the same treatment.” In most cases, when you remain in regret, you are judging yourself. Judge not. Pray over it and go forward remembering Luke 6:37: “Forgive, and you will be forgiven.”
I knew someone who used the acronym FIDO—Forget It and Drive On. Keep looking forward so you don’t miss the opportunities God has for you.