When she was a little girl, my daughter, Laura, taught me an important lesson.
At nearly every one of our church picnics, Laura would go through the same ritual. With a small paper plate in hand, she’d go to the snack section of the serving table and pile a bunch of chips on top. Laura would then begin eating, holding a chip in one hand and her plate in the other.
Inevitably, as she walked and ate, a chip would fall off her plate to the ground. Greatly disturbed about the loss of one of her chips, Laura’s immediate response was to bend over to look at the fallen chip. Unfortunately, when she leaned over to count her loss, the rest of her chips would slide off her plate onto the ground. A big crying jag would ensue.
What lesson did I learn from Laura’s little calamity? To use caution when carrying a plate of chips? No.
For me, the enduring image of Laura bending down to grieve over her loss of one potato chip, only to lose everything else in the process, is a powerful analogy of the ravages of regret.
Regret can often be constructive. Regret can spark within us the resolution to make up for the wrongs we’ve done. Indeed, regret over personal failures can give us the resolve to never let it happen again.
Unfortunately, regret can also become poisonous. This occurs when we stay focused on the losses we’ve suffered and fail to cherish what’s still in our possession.
An important key to our happiness—and to our survival over grief and regret—is to practice giving thanks to God. If we do not learn to count our blessings we’ll descend into counting our losses. Sorrow, anger, and regret will sour our spirits and rob us of our joy. In the Psalms, King David gave this admonition to himself. “Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget none of His benefits” (Ps. 103:2). If a chip falls from your plate, be thankful for what remains. Resist the urge to bend over, count the loss, and then lose everything. Count your blessings. Hunt for the good in life. And give thanks to God for everything.
Dear Lord, open my eyes to the good things You’ve poured into my life and open my mouth to give thanks. Amen.
In article photo: USS Enterprise’s Mustang Association grill for the crew by the U.S. Navy licensed under U.S. Govt. Work