Learn Through Your Regrets – Mixed Emotions

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As a perfectionist, I’d say disappointment and regret come as naturally to me as breathing. I’ll bet some of you can relate. There’s always something that could’ve been or made it better.

Some disappointments are little—forgetting something at home, spilling coffee on my shirt—nuisances I’ll forget in a day or two. Others are bigger regrets that may stay with me the rest of my life.

Over the last few days, we’ve talked about different ways to learn through our disappointments. Once we’ve avoided the “-er”s and acknowledged our own part in what happened, it’s time to do something to move forward. Taking a step to try something new or fun is a great place to start.

In my experience, trying something fun helps in two ways.

First: When done in a healthy way, it can be a good distraction—a way to remind us that no matter what’s behind us, God still has a rich, satisfying life ahead of us.

I don’t think it’s healthy to ignore your emotions or mistakes, but once you’ve processed them and figured out what you can learn from them, eventually you have to move forward. You have to let go and step into what’s ahead. This isn’t necessarily a one-and-done decision—I often catch myself looking back at past regrets and disappointments, still hurting over what’s been done to me and blaming myself for things I wish I’d done differently. But I’ve learned as many lessons as I can from what happened, and God’s plan for me does not exist in the past. It’s time to live, enjoy the present, and look to the future.

Second: Trying something new and fun can help me apply what I’ve learned, by finding a better way. Sometimes we experience regret because we’re trying to live in a way we weren’t intended to—in a way that doesn’t align with who God designed us to be or how he calls us to live. But when we try something fun that combines what brings us joy and the way we’re wired in a way that helps us connect with others, we find ourselves living in God’s purpose for us. And when we live in God’s purpose, we don’t stop experiencing disappointment and regret, but trust me when I say, we experience those things less.

John 10:10
The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life.

At the end of the day, one of the ways God has helped me move past disappointments and regrets is through the gift of the amazing, life-giving friends I’ve journeyed with. They help me to avoid getting caught up in what could’ve been better; to see the truth of what happened so that I can acknowledge my own part in it, while affirming that no matter what, I matter; and they remind me to enjoy life, move forward, and look to the future.

To the authentic, life-giving people in my life who’ve helped me move past my disappointments and regrets: Thank you. I don’t know where I’d be without you.

Proverbs 27:17
As iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens a friend.

Questions:
Do you feel ready to let go of and move past your regrets?
What’s something new and fun you can try this week—that combines the way you’re wired with what brings you joy and helps you connect with others?
Who in your life helps you learn through your regrets? Who can you help learn through their regrets?

Next Steps:
If you haven’t joined a Group yet, now is the time. We are not meant to do life alone. Go to CedarCreek.tv/groups to find the right fit for you.
Try something new and fun today, this weekend, or this coming week!

Prayer:
Heavenly Father, you know the disappointments and regrets we each carry. Thank you for always giving us a way to learn through these emotions and eventually move forward. Help us to forgive those who have disappointed us, and to forgive ourselves for the things we regret. Teach us to move forward, stepping into the rich, satisfying life you intended for us, and into authentic, life-giving relationships with those around us. In Jesus’ name I pray, amen.


This post was written by Payton Lechner. Payton is currently the apprentice copywriter at CedarCreek. In her spare time, she freelances as a writer and editor. Besides the English language, Payton loves swimming, cats, and a good cup of tea.


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Live Through It – Mixed Emotions

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If you’re anything like me, you get a case of the what ifs when faced with something disappointing or when you get let down. What if I would have been there when …? What if I would have answered that phone call from …? What if I had never started …?

I know there are a million what ifs. Yet, when I pray and think about it, there is only one answer and that answer isn’t mine to give—it’s God’s. He gave us free will to choose our own actions, but when we ask ourselves, “What if?” there’s no possible way to explain what the outcome would have or could have been.

On September 29, 1999, I lost a family member whom I was really close to in a car accident. The night before, I had gotten into some trouble with my mom and wasn’t allowed to go out with my cousin and friends. I don’t remember what I did, but that is definitely one of my what ifs.

What if I hadn’t gotten into trouble and was with my cousin on his last night on earth?

Would we have done the same thing we always did—drive around listening to music and just being teenagers? Probably. Would things have worked out differently? I don’t know. No one does—except God. But it was the regret of not seeing him one last time that really hurt.

It took me a while to work through my grief. I was upset with God that I didn’t have the opportunity to see my cousin that last night he was on earth. When we are disappointed with ourselves, it’s easier to project our feelings on someone else—often God. He can handle it, though, and when we take our problems to him, he will help us do the necessary work in ourselves to get through it.

Romans 12:3
Because of the privilege and authority God has given me, I give each of you this warning: Don’t think you are better than you really are. Be honest in your evaluation of yourselves, measuring yourselves by the faith God has given us.

Over time, God helped me realize I was actually upset with myself and felt guilty for not being there on account of my own actions. God helped me understand that I was disappointed because it was me who had prevented myself from saying goodbye one more time. Once I was able to work through that, my healing began through God’s grace.

Mark 9:23
“What do you mean, ‘If I can’?” Jesus asked. “Anything is possible if a person believes.”

Rather than avoiding or suppressing disappointing situations, we can take our problems to the Father and grow in our faith.

Questions:
Do you work through disappointment or avoid it like the plague? Do you ever get a case of the what ifs?

Next Steps:
Keep reading the daily LivingItOut and encourage others to work through disappointment rather than staying down. Don’t say “I’m fine” when you aren’t. Pick up the phone and talk to someone in your Group, and if you’re not in one, consider joining one.

Prayer:
God, thank you for this series. Through it, I’m learning so much about myself. You never steer me wrong. You have not failed, and I know you won’t. Please allow the words you give me to influence others so they may put their trust in you when they feel discouraged and disappointed. Thank you for being there when I am in my darkest moments of disappointment and pointing me toward Jesus, the light. Amen.


This post was written by Casey Stengel, a regular contributor to the LivingItOut.


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Rethink a Thing or Two – Mixed Emotions

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How much time have you wasted wanting a better life and thinking about what could quench that thirst? We’ve all been there, and living in that space rarely leaves us satisfied.

We wanted a better and warmer living environment at the beginning of our marriage. California was great, but we were disappointed with our first housing choice. Getting closer to the ocean was one way to improve our circumstances.

While the weather made up for some things, the absence of family still left us lonely. We continued to believe “ER” words suited us well, but we were never completely content, or things didn’t work out as planned. Staying in a city longer, trying to be stronger without any help, and thinking a wealthier bank account would deliver all of our needs only brought us more disappointment.

Much of our pursuits were more about keeping up with the Joneses than focusing on our relationships with God and each other.

Romans 12:2
Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.

The weekend message taught us we have to navigate out of disappointments by avoiding the lies of “ER.” Gaining power, being cooler, or getting richer will never internally satisfy you. Believing in those lies won’t quench your thirst, and the taste will eventually turn bitter as you continue chasing after shiny things.

We all need to learn how to be content. That doesn’t mean we can’t strive for greatness, but we must separate ourselves from the worldview of greatness to find satisfaction in God’s will.

NFL quarterback Tom Brady continues to play for rings, but many already considered him the greatest QB of all time—a long time ago. NBA legend Michael Jordan is regarded as the greatest athlete but feels cursed and continues to pursue other accomplishments, knowing they won’t satisfy him. Do their unsatisfied natures elevate their achievements?

In contrast, JD Salinger published one novel that has stood the test of time, but he continued writing without publishing another. Lauryn Hill recorded one solo album, then stayed away from the industry when unrealistic expectations threatened her artistry. As Lauryn explained, “I challenged the norm and introduced a new standard… I believe The Miseducation did that, and I believe I still do this. [Myself and my album] defy convention when the convention is questionable.” It seems JD and Lauryn found freedom instead of living in disappointment. They managed to be content.

1 Timothy 6:6
Yet true godliness with contentment is itself great wealth.

Questions:
What do you find disappointing about your life? What areas are you content with?

Next Steps:
Continue making God a part of your daily life by reading the Bible, attending a weekend service, and joining a Group. Pray about the things that leave you unsatisfied and share those concerns with people you trust.

Prayer:
Lord, help me find peace when my mind is racing and pushing me toward the things of the world that have me competing against myself and others. Help me turn toward you and my family more consistently. May your words become mine more often throughout my daily conversations. Amen.


This post was written by Jaron Camp. Jaron is a storyteller and a professional ghostwriter who enjoys using his gifts to write for the LivingItOut. When he’s not developing fictional worlds, researching, and writing, Jaron enjoys watching sports, participating in family game night, and spending time with his wife and four kids.


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Hope Within the Hurting – Mixed Emotions

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In May, I graduated from the University of Toledo. I had been looking forward to this for four years and was thrilled when I finally earned my degree. I had the perfect vision of what my life would look like after college—I was so excited to find a full-time job that I loved and to finally live on my own!

However, I soon discovered that navigating life after college is not as easy as it seems. I was discouraged when I found that life is full of twists and turns. While there are times of prosperity and hope, there are also times of despair and disappointment. This summer, I was faced with personal battles that prevented my plans from coming to fruition. Because of this, I felt terribly defeated.

Many tears have been shed, and there have been sleepless nights filled with anxiety, but God planted hope in me and gave me the strength to endure these disappointments. Even when I pushed God away, I could still feel him nearby, working for my good. Sure, it would have been great to have gotten everything I personally desired after I graduated. But I was chasing my own dream instead of following the unique path God had planned for me.

While I was disheartened, these trials encouraged me to reconnect with God. I grew in patience and persistence by listening to God and not letting the enemy deceive me into believing that disappointments were the end of the journey. In fact, they were just the beginning: they matured me in wisdom and faith.

Rather than working full-time, I am going back to school for something completely unrelated to my degree. I plan on working part-time, and I won’t be moving out on my own just yet. If I had known last spring what I know now, I would have been distraught. I would have thought that all my hard work was for nothing and my trust in God would have been shaken. But, as the Scriptures teach, God refined my heart through these disappointments. He humbled me and taught me that life is not meant to be done alone; our human plans are not always going to succeed.

In life, we will inevitably face disappointment. Thankfully, God does promise that there will be joy ahead if we trust in him.

1 Peter 1:6-7
6 So be truly glad. There is wonderful joy ahead, even though you must endure many trials for a little while. 7 These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold—though your faith is far more precious than mere gold. So when your faith remains strong through many trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world.

Questions:
What are some recent disappointments that you have faced? How did you react? Did they impact your relationship with God?

Next Steps:
Practice gratitude: Write down three things that you are grateful for each day and thank God for these gifts.

Join a Group of Jesus-followers who will support you on your journey with Christ. Surround yourself with those who will support you and remind you of God’s promises of hope.

Prayer:
Heavenly Father, thank you for supporting us through life’s disappointments. Remind us that you are there through every trial and that you can use our disappointments for a greater purpose. Please renew our hope that, even though we may face disappointment, there is indescribable joy ahead for those who put their trust in you. In Jesus’ name, amen.


This post was written by Isabelle Billnitzer. Isabelle is a regular attender of CedarCreek and serves in the children’s ministry. She is passionate about writing and loves spending time with her family and friends. Her goal is to show people the love of Jesus Christ.


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Get Off the Couch – Mixed Emotions

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In Week 3 of our series, Mixed Emotions, we focus on turning disappointment into delight. Unfortunately, life is full of disappointments. They often make us bitter, angry, and hopeless—which can lead to our not doing the things that delight us. In essence, we stop living, defer our hope, and get in a rut.

But we have a choice on how we handle disappointment. We can respond like the world or we can let God transform us.

Romans 12:2
Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.

Recently, life’s disappointments were really building up. I was in a serious rut and suffering from burnout. I was up extra early to get to work, and by the time I got home, I was exhausted. After dinner, I would plant myself on the couch and stay there until bedtime. I started eating Fritos or Cheetos and cookies every night.

Even though I spend time with God daily—praying, reading the Bible, and praising him—I still felt hopeless. I realized I had stopped doing fun things, things that fill my tank.

Proverbs 13:12
Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a dream fulfilled is a tree of life.

I needed to make some changes. I cut out the junk food and started eating better. I also began to exercise (swimming) for a half-hour every day after dinner, then relax in the hot tub with my husband. Before this, my husband would frequently ask me to go swimming, but I would reply that I was too tired.

Changing this one hour each night made a huge difference in my life, and I never regretted it. I was happier and more energized, and I was sleeping better. So, I made a decision to do other things that filled me up. I got in contact with friends who I hadn’t seen in a while. We went for walks, drank chai tea, and laughed together.

I feel like a new person. Not only have I been much more hopeful and thankful to God, but I’m also finding that I am able to handle disappointments better. My life is rich and satisfying.

One of my favorite verses is John 10:10: “The thief’s purpose is to steal, and kill, and destroy. My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life.” Jesus wants us to have a rich and satisfying life. He wants us to be filled with his joy and delight. We have to make time to do fun things that revive and replenish us.

Yes, we will go through hard times, but he is always with us. He is our hope!

Questions:
What do you do when you feel hopeless? How do you handle disappointments? How are you letting God transform you? What fills your tank?

Next Steps:
Join or lead a Group. Get off the couch, and do something every day that fills your tank.

Prayer:
Jesus, thank you for conquering death so that we can have a rich and satisfying life. Help me turn to you when I am disappointed and overwhelmed. Transform me, Lord. Give me the desire to do things daily that fill me with your hope and joy. Help me to focus on your blessings and not the disappointments. I am so grateful you are always present in my life. I love and adore you. Amen.


This post was written by Marsha Raymond. Marsha has been happily married to her husband, Jeff, for 30 years. They have two grown sassy and fearless daughters. She loves spending time with God, her family and friends, reading, riding bicycles, yoga and walking.


Check out the Latest LivingItOut Podcast

The LivingItOut Podcast is released every Wednesday morning. It discusses key takeaways and principles from the weekend message. Listen to the weekly podcast in your car, during your lunch break, or any other time that works for you. You can find the latest podcast here.


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We would love to hear how the LivingItOut is making a difference in your life. Let us know how today’s post inspired, challenged, or encouraged you by leaving a comment here.


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