Ever played the "if only" game? You know, the one where you wish you hadn't done or said something or gone to a certain place?
If only I didn't fall for that phony line from the guy who said he cared about me--but all he wanted was what I never should have given.
If only I hadn't told that person off, maybe they wouldn't have left the church.
If only I hadn't gone to that bar and had a few too many I wouldn't have been arrested for DUI.
It's a losing game. No one yet has figured out a way to undo the past.
God can forgive you for mistakes and even for deliberate sins, and will if you ask with a repentant heart. It only takes asking.
There have been so many times I felt like I didn't deserve forgiving. That I fully deserved what happened as a result of a wrong action. That I should carry the load of guilt for the rest of my life. But that's not what God wants. He wants you to live free of your past, free to move into a future with Him.
There are times we have to bear the consequences of wrong actions. If you run a stoplight and someone gets hurt, that's not God's fault and He seldom changes the laws of physics to cover our carelessness. Still--He will forgive you if you ask.
I had a good friend who had a problem with alcohol. She drove drunk and killed a child. She went to prison, too. Although I never did see her again after that, I know it tore her up. She may have paid her debt to society, but I knew her. She loved kids. She had two of her own.
There's another game you could play instead of "if only."
What if I listen instead of spout off what I'm thinking? What if I listen with my head as well as my heart? What if I tell my friends, "No, that's not a wise thing to do." Or, "No, I have a hard time stopping with one drink, so I don't want to start." Or, "No, I don't do drugs."
What if? What if I didn't get myself into a situation that I couldn't get out of? What if I asked God's forgiveness?
I think I like this game better. You?