Oblate Program at Belmont Abbey, NC

Regret, pain, loss and tears

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A prisoner’s sorrow

I am writing a prisoner, his name is Roger, who has been in prison for many years, but, hopefully, will be getting out soon on parole. He is I believe one of those who will not be going back in. At least that is my prayer, for him. In his last letter, he talked about regret and if I could give him some insight into dealing with it. I am not sure if I helped him, but since I have my own weight of regrets, I guess I do have some experience in dealing with it…..as I would suppose, most people do as well. Below is some of what I shared with him. I did not want him to think that he was alone in dealing with his past, that we all carry some weight around in our souls, even if it is often hidden. One day it will come out. I believe that as death nears, we do review our lives, or as the NDE’s talk about, have a live review. So below is what I shared with him. I need to say in passing, I have learned a lot from him. About perseverance against strong obstacles and starting over as he has done and will continue to do when he is released.

Quote “Dear Roger,

You asked about ‘regret’ and how to deal with it. We all have regrets in our lives. Some, over embarrassing moments, others, about serious wrongs that we did over the years, some more severe than others because we knew what we were doing and not just overwhelmed with emotion or passion when committed; they were free, evil, acts.

Regrets, which are wounds that we place on ourselves, can rise up from time to time. For when we sin against another, we also sin against ourselves. However, to feel sorrow over our past can be something positive if we do not wallow in false guilt, which is a waste of time. Growth in self-knowledge comes from our contemplating what we have done in the past and from that knowing what we are capable of doing now and in the future. It is not always easy, but if you do feel regret, bring them into the presence of the Lord Jesus who knows, understands and has already forgiven you. Now you just need deeper healing for yourself and for those you hurt. You can pray for them, also if you can, if it is possible, to ask them for forgiveness. If they give it or not, are less important than you actually admitting it…..it takes a weight off and also leads to deeper compassion for others, as well as being able to forgive those who have hurt you in the past as well as the present….though it is always a struggle because of our powerful emotions. Pain goes deep, emotional pain the deepest.

We each carry a burden, but until we learn to love ourselves and accept fully the healing mercy of the Lord we will go in circles bemoaning our past. Tears of sorrow are healing, tears of self-pity are of a different nature altogether. We need to look to the Lord and not to our feet like Peter did when he was walking on the water towards the Lord. He began to sink, yet the Lord reached out and pulled him up, as he does you on a daily basis. You are God’s child, his son, his beloved, never forget that. Allow God’s love to fill you with compassion for yourself, self-hatred leads nowhere. One point, do not be afraid of the different types of inner experiences, for they pass and another will take its place. It is from the standpoint of faith that you learn to trust and not get swallowed up by inner storms.

When you start on the path of faith, the Lord will want you to grow in self-knowledge, which is humbling, for it is based on truth. Do not fear the truth about yourself, for in that you learn to embrace your need for mercy and healing. To deny that is only to allow it to grow unchecked and over time can become a devouring flame. Christ Jesus died for you, would have died if you were the only human on earth, that is what God’s love is….infinite, incomprehensible, other….so don’t try to understand it from how we humans love. Our love is finite, very comprehensible because it has limits. If God loved the way we do, well yes, we would be in deep trouble, yet Christ Jesus shows us something different my friend.

When you see others there in the grip of some passion, or depressed, or overwhelmed with guilt, have compassion for them, and if possible let them know of God’s love. Speak to them in everyday language, using scripture only if it helps you to share your experience of the Love you have experienced in Christ Jesus.

So, your regret, can lead to deeper healing, or to just more worthless guilt that leads nowhere. When you feel ‘negative emotions’ open up that chamber in your heart to the love, light, mercy and God’s love for you and those there with you…everyone you see and interact with is the beloved Child of God and how you treat them is how you treat Jesus Christ. When you fail, just get up and if you can make amends.” End of quote’

As a Christian who has received the mercy of God through Jesus Christ, I have only hope for all and so I encourage others no matter what their inner feelings and emotions are to trust in God’s love and mercy. God’s love is not predicated on how we feel at any one time. True faith has a deep trust in the Lord’s love; that nothing can separate us from if we seek mercy, compassion for ourselves as well as others. What we receive, we are to give back, to become channels of God’s love and grace. We are Christ arms to embrace, he speaks through us when we share our faith and encourage others, and when we show compassion it is His Heart that flows through ours. We are called to truly understand and deepen our understanding of what it means to belong to the priesthood of the faithful.

Br. Mark Dohle, OCSO
Holy Spirit Monastery

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