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Rigidity, Regret, and Repentance

We all fail. We do things that we know aren't right. We say things that we know aren't fair. We break promises. We choose selfishness and all the destruction that comes with it. We allow our pride to rule over our hearts. We all fail.

As I see it, we have three choices when we do.

We can be rigid.

We can be regretful.

Or we can be repentant.

To be honest, the tendency of my heart is to be rigid.

I want to defend what I've done. I want to justify my actions. I want to explain why I wasn't really at fault. I want to offer all the reasons for why I had no choice in the matter. I want to shirk responsibility and assign blame.

But rigidity doesn't restore relationship. In fact, far from serving as a bridge to relationship, it builds a wall against it.

Sometimes, when I'm able to catch my heart growing rigid, I manage to muster up some regret.

But that's not much better. You see, regret is little more than a negative emotion. I feel bad for what I've done. I wish I hadn't said what I said. I'm sorry I did that. But given enough time, the regret will pass, and I will be left unchanged.

In some ways, regret is as destructive as rigidity, for it allows me to continually hurt the people I love and believe that feeling sorry – and even saying it – is enough.

It's not. Instead, trust deteriorates as I habitually make the same choices over and over again.

Failure calls not for rigidity and not merely for regret, but for repentance.

To repent simply means to change directions. It means that I choose to not only stop going one way, but to start going another.

It calls us from something to something. From greed to generosity. From criticism to encouragement. From lies to truth. From unforgiveness to grace. From hurt to love.

Rigidity creates distance. It results in a hard heart. It makes intimacy impossible. It drives a wedge between relationships.

Regret requires nothing of me. It does not ask me to seek forgiveness. It does not compel me to change. It does nothing to pursue relationship.

Repentance is hard. It takes humility. It takes work. But it is decidedly for relationship.

And it's worth it. It is always worth it.

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