If Only: Letting Go of Regret (book review)

flat cover IF ONLYWhat do you do with your troublesome “if only” moments, a.k.a. regrets?  I tend to ignore them, safely stashing them in a mental holding cell because facing them feels like living Groundhog Day without the power to change anything.  No fun.

If Only: Letting Go of Regret, by Michelle Van Loon, says that I should set them free.  In fact, close examination of our regrets can yield personal freedom and spiritual transformation.

Michelle skillfully blends her own “if only” moments with solid biblical truth to deliver a number of redemptive aspects of regret.  Michelle is a friend of mine, so I’m doubly delighted to review her book.  I recommend the book on its own merits, and I recommend its author for her honesty, wisdom and true heart.

She has learned, and shares with us, that an honest examination of our “if only” moments can train our thoughts and behaviors, might lead us to new freedom as we recognize and confess sins that had been safely hidden along with our regrets, and could offer healing if we have confused appropriate guilt with inappropriate shame.  There’s more, but I hope that is enough to whet your appetite. Perhaps most powerfully, when we release and surrender our regrets to Jesus, we can experience impossible peace and wholeness, shalom.

“Reconciliation with our past ‘if onlys’ changes the way we live here and now, in the present tense.  When we are unshackled from our past regrets, we are able to experience shalom even as we walk out the consequences of a poor decision or sinful choice.  We are at liberty to follow Jesus out of the prison cell and into the world he loves.”  (p. 124)

If Only motivates me to release my incarcerated regrets, to find the truth that they can teach me, and to be done with them.  I cannot re-do my “if only” blunders, but I can be free of their power to discourage or defeat me.

You won’t regret reading If Only!

Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death.  2 Corinthians 7:10

How do you handle regret?

9 thoughts on “If Only: Letting Go of Regret (book review)

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  1. We have different ways of processing what happens in our lives and God can meet us wherever we are. I like Paul’s approach and prefer to “move faithfully onward”

  2. Amen to that wonderful verse, Larry. And thank you, Judy, for your gracious words. This sentence gave me the chills: “If Only motivates me to release my incarcerated regrets, to find the truth that they can teach me, and to be done with them.”

  3. She came to BUMC for the TH WOW Bible Study and talked to us. She was great and I will try to fit in time to read the book but I must say I have 10 other great books to read as well!

  4. My if onlys would encircle the globe if laid end to end, but Paul’s statement has always given me comfort: “…but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 3:13-14)

    Sounds like a great book.

    1. Hi Larry, I suspect most of us have a pretty long story of “if onlys”. How many times have I thought, “I wish I had understood this years ago…”? But, the only reason I understand it now is because I’ve seen the truth of it played out in my decisions and actions, many of which I would do differently if I could. Can we really learn and grow without some regrets? I’m not so sure. So, I love the verse you quoted, because it directs us forward with the wisdom we’ve gained from the past. Thanks, and may we move faithfully onward! Judy

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