People have faced regret at one point or another in their lives. Pastor Rick Warren from Saddleback Church says we all have made bad choices, said foolish things, and thoughtlessly hurt ourselves and others.
In all of the years he's served as a pastor, Warren says he's witnessed several strategies people have employed to get over their guilt that did not work. In an article he wrote for Charisma News, Warren says people either try to bury their past, blame others, or beat themselves up over their guilt.
People who attempt to cover up their regrets with rationalisation and compromise often fail, because regrets remain present and unresolved, he says.
As for blaming others, Warren says this will not work either because it's a faulty tactic used to balance guilt.
On the other hand, wallowing in guilt isn't healthy either.
"We try to pay for our guilt unconsciously through illness, depression, setting ourselves up for failure and other forms of self-punishment," says Warren. "But the problem with beating yourself up is that your conscience never knows when to stop. Some people spend their entire lives in self-condemnation."
So how should Christians deal with their regrets? Warren says God wants people to admit their guilt and own up to it. Proverbs 28:13 says, "A man who refuses to admit his mistakes can never be successful. But if he confesses and forsakes them, he gets another chance," he quotes.
Next, people should turn to Jesus Christ for forgiveness. Jesus is simply waiting for people to come to Him so He can clear their conscience, Warren says.
And lastly, people need to learn how to forgive themselves. Isaiah 43:18-9 says, "Do not remember the former things nor consider the things of old. See, I will do a new thing, now it shall spring forth; shall you not be aware of it? I will even make a way in the wilderness, and rivers in the desert," Warren quotes.