Wednesday, March 18, 2009


It is somewhat inevitable when one looks back on one's life to have a few regrets. I don't share Sinatra's sentiment when he sang, "Regrets... I've had few. But then again, too few to mention."  Of course, some people are overcome with regrets, but I'm not at all like that.  I have had a pretty full and interesting life. It bothers me not to be able to look ahead too far now.  Is it worth buying that book now?  Should I really start that project?  Will I be able to complete it?  I have always been so future oriented.

Now, I find myself tending to look back more often in reflection (and also because people ask about my thoughts of the past). 

And yes, I have regrets. Of course, I do. 

I wish I had been there for my kids more when they were young.  I was so concerned with establishing a ministry and so in love with what I was doing at the mission that I know my kids felt like they got the leftovers, as I would often come home and collapse. I should have saved more of my energy for them.  Now I have so little energy and what a joy it is to have them come home to spend some time with me.  I don't deserve such great kids!

I wish I had been able to finish my doctorate.  Finally admitting that my health just wasn't going to allow me to pursue this and withdrawing from my program of study was one of the hardest things I ever did.  I would have like to have finished it; I really wanted to write my thesis on suffering for righteousness in the book of Psalms.  I wish I had pursued it earlier, but I wonder how I would have fit it in?

I wish that I had given my wife a more stable home life earlier in our marriage.  I wish I had not disappointed her so often and failed her so badly at times.  Her longsuffering has been and is amazing. I love her so much. I am not an easy man to live with.  But she still loves me and is my faithful companion. 

I wish that I had dealt with certain "people problems" differently which I struggled with, especially early on in my ministry years.  With some folks, I wish I had been more gracious.  With others, I should have been much more firm.  With a couple of individuals, I wish I had simply fired them when I knew I needed to. But you never fire someone too soon, do you?  In my case, I took their failure as my own and thought that by firing them I would be admitting that I could not lead them.  What a fool I was and such grief I brought upon my own life.  For most of my ministry leadership years, I struggled with really accepting the authority that I had been given. Hence, I failed to exercise it well for a long time. I wish that I had accepted my God-given role as a leader earlier in my life.

Of course, I can't go back and rewrite history.  I would like to think that I would do things differently if I could do them again.  Maybe I would. I certainly hope that I would not have made some of the mistakes that I have made over the years that caused me and others such pain and disappointment.  I suspect that some things, though, I would do all over again given my overactive, creative, goal-oriented personality.  But who is to know?  The fact is, everyone's life brings its share of joys, successes, failures, and regrets.  God has been so gracious to me.  Who am I to obsess over my regrets when I have seen His hand leading me, sometimes catching me, sometimes extended towards me when I thought that I could walk better without Him.  Thank you, Lord, for always being there, for loving me, for forgiving me.  Maybe that's why I can look back with some regret but without guilt.


Todd said...

These posts are powerful, Glenn! I hope you'll follow this one up with a "highlights" post...the things you look back on with the most joy and satisfaction.

Glenn Penner said...

An excellent suggestion. Thanks

Anonymous said...

Buy that book! Start that project! God knows the number of your days so go on until He calls you home.

Glenn Penner said...

Good advice and a great reminder of truth, Eunice. Thanks

terri said...

I found this post very touching. I am sure your wife and children know how much you care for them and always have.

It's comforting when the unconditional love of Christ is given back to us through other people, especially our family members.

I am sure it is natural for us to remember our "mistakes" and make peace with them.

May God see you through those regrets and instill in you the hope of that future resurrection and eternal life.

Praying for you and your family.