No Regrets—Just Lessons Learned
*Note: This is another post from the vault that was written when my husband was still living. Enjoy!
I found this in a mass mail that a friend sent out. It made me giggle. I giggled and thought, RIGHT. This kid gets it. Do I?
“A little boy was overheard praying: ‘Lord, if you can’t make me a better boy, don’t worry about it. I’m having a real good time like I am.’”
My thought: this kid is comfortable in himself. He is having a good time with life. The good and the bad are all a part of it.
I hope that the fictional boy will keep this attitude in life. I hope he will love himself and others and bring joy to everyone he meets. I hope he’ll pull pranks, tease, and get teased. I hope he’ll love his pet tortoise. As he learns to be kind and compassionate to others, he’ll earn friends. He will grow into a healthy adult who will pass these same traits on to others.
Being able to know that you are fine just the way you are is a gift. It is a gift provided by loving parents who care enough about a child to foster a proper self-image from the beginning. This child is not indulged, but rather encouraged to do his or her best in everything. She is praised for accomplishing things, and supported to get back up and try again when she fails at something. Like our fictional boy, she knows that “I am having a real good time like I am.”
A healthy child learns to earn the privileges he or she deserves. She learns to wait for the toy that she wants, and earns the prize honestly. And along the way, she comes to understand that she is unique, but not “special” within her world. She learns that success is won and failure is a lesson to be learned from.
Recently, a friend sent me one of those captioned pictures. You know, the kind that floats around the Internet. This one had an interesting caption and I took the time to respond to it.
The subject matter of the photo was having regrets. Throughout my life I have made mistakes and felt sorrow over decisions that could have carried me down a different path. I am “me” because I’ve made the choices I’ve made. I’ve learned the good and the bad lessons from those choices. I own my choices. Ownership of the outcome means that I try to live by not asking “WHAT IF?” or thinking “IF ONLY.” Once it’s done, you can’t take it back.
My first lesson from life in these matters came when I was 18 and headed off to school in another state. My mother and I were present when my younger sister died of a heart attack. There was a part of me that wanted to cancel my life and stay home. That wasn’t to be, and I moved on to the next phase of my life: learning on a larger scale.
Because of the choice I made to move forward, I made friends that I would have never made. I grew up and discovered that my heart could get broken, heal, and, yes—I could even fall in love again. I learned not only to love, but to give, in new ways. Had I stayed home and attended school locally, the lessons would have been different. Leaving home caused me to want different things from life. That is what should happen because growth requires change.
As I write this from the vantage point of age, and hopefully, more wisdom, I am thankful for the roads I have walked. Sometimes I speculate about the roads that weren’t traveled. And I think back to that fictional little boy—you know, the one that is just fine the way he is—and I think that I’m fine having walked down the paths I’ve taken. I’m glad I’ve learned, hurt, healed, and grown. No real regrets—just lots of lessons to learn from.