By Joan Clayton
Do you live in the yesterdays of regrets? Do you ever wish you could go back and remove that hasty remark or that loss of temper? I have, and I’ve learned many lessons. I’ve had to ask forgiveness again and again.
Maybe it was a result of teaching school for 31 years. In the classroom, behavior must be monitored constantly.
Maybe it came from having had three lively, rough and tumble boys of our own. Certainly they had to be taught and trained in behavior, but when it came to changing the behavior of my husband, I began to hit a brick wall.
I had the mistaken idea that husbands could be changed. When Emmitt did something I didn’t like, my way was always better. If I persisted and stood my ground, a shouting match usually ensued and I ended up with hurt feelings.
After one episode, I thought, Surely I’m not the one that is wrong … or am I? Did I want peace or did I want to continue trying to change my husband?
After much prayer, I finally relinquished my right to be right. (Even when I’m right!) I simply repented and asked the Lord to forgive me. I confessed that I could not control other people’s behavior, especially that of my husband. After all, I fell in love with him just the way he was. Why would I want to change that?
I awakened one night with Emmitt whispering in my ear, “Honey, I’m so sorry. I was dreaming and in my dream I heard the way I talked to you yesterday. Will you please forgive me?” I hugged him tight and thanked the Lord for showing me that only He can change people.
I learned a valuable lesson in the wee hours of that morning. It is one I will never forget. I pray and leave it in God’s hands. He does the rest.
When I apologized to one of my sons one day, he graciously responded: “Mom, there is nothing you could ever say or do that would make me not love you!” That is true forgiveness.
Lesson two in valuable lessons: “Unforgiveness blocks peace.” Mistakes require repentance and forgiveness. Ask for forgiveness from others, forgive yourself and go on with life. We have all been touched by hurt and pain, but we do not have to allow the past to rob us of today or tomorrow. Dwelling on what happened yesterday ruins a good today.
Lesson three in valuable lessons: “Today is a passing day.” It is going into the “tomb of time.” You cannot save, loan or borrow time. All you can do is use it. Time is a precious commodity. Wisdom is revealed in Psalm 90:12: “So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom.” God has given us one day at a time.
It’s a sad thing to waste it. God receives true repentance and remembers it no more. It is lost into the sea of forgetfulness. “Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God has forgiven you because you belong to Christ” (Ephesians 4:32 (TLB).
Lesson four in valuable lessons: “Worry steals faith.” The most precious gift you have is faith. The greatest legacy you can leave your family is a strong faith in God.
Worry comes with misery and puts heaviness in the atmosphere. I’ve heard it said, “Worriers brighten up a room by leaving it.”
“Do not worry about anything, but pray and ask God for everything you need, always giving thanks. And God’s peace, which is so great we cannot understand it, will keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6-7 NCV).
Joan Clayton is a retired teacher and religion columnist living in Portales.