October 15, 2018
A dear minister friend of mine always stops people when they allow themselves to fall into the “coulda, woulda, shoulda” trap. I could have spent more time with my loved one. I would have done things differently if I had known what was coming. I should have ordered my priorities and chosen better.”
Does any of that sound familiar? I fell into that trap last week when I made the decision to be home for awhile and try to refocus. The decision was good, but the process included some backsliding on my part as I considered what had sent me home and began thinking that I “coulda, woulda, shoulda.”
Do we need to look at our mistakes, our misdirection, our mistreatment of people or life? Of course, because we need to be aware that, as George Santayana said, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” However, recognizing errors and sins and working not to repeat them is not the same thing as dwelling on “coulda, woulda, shoulda.”
As I shared in my book Walking at the Speed of Light, true Christian thinking is forward thinking. Jesus invites us to take His yoke upon us, to learn from Him, and to walk with Him. He offers forgiveness and salvation with no looking back, and that journey gives us both healing and meaning.
Notice as you read the writers of the New Testament that none of them dwell on their past sins but look upward and forward to life with Jesus. Paul, for example, admits his horrible past as a persecutor of Christians, but he does so only in the framework of reminding us that if a sinner like him can become an instrument of God’s will, then we can as well.
What do we do when the “coulda, woulda, shouldas” get ahold of us? First, we recognize them, second we ask Jesus to help us put them in their place, and third we turn to sources and actions which redirect our feet, our thoughts, and our hearts.