As I grow older, I try to live my life without regrets. We never know what the next day may bring, and I don’t want to look back and find myself dissatisfied with how I lived.
We recently took a day trip across the border to Tijuana Mexico. We went to be tourists, do some shopping, and give the kids a glimpse into another culture. All of that was accomplished, but when we returned home, I realized I hadn’t followed my rule, and I left with regrets.
Backing up just a bit… A few months ago I felt a burden to start practicing Spanish again. So, I started brushing up on my skills with an old workbook and my Duolingo app. I have no idea what purpose this might serve in the future, but I figure it could only be beneficial. So, I’ve been dabbling around trying to pull lost vocabulary words from the cobwebs of my mind.
While in Mexico, I was a little surprised that I was actually able to understand people! I spoke to the storekeepers in Spanish a little, but relied mainly on their abilities to speak English. I was afraid they would think I was silly with my white girl accent and horrific grasp of past tense verbs. Only after we left, did I realize how appreciative they were when I spoke their language (no matter how poorly). I regret I didn’t have more courage to be bold and make mistakes.
In the evening, as we were leaving Mexico, we were surrounded by vendors wandering around the traffic jam of cars selling everything from tamales and churros to Frozen paraphernalia and last supper paintings.
A man with severely crippled legs came near our car, and my mom offered him a handful of coins. He was carrying a garbage bag and asked if we needed to throw anything away. This man was doing what he could to try and survive. We politely declined giving him trash, and he thanked us and told us “God bless you.”
He could only speak Spanish, and as I told him “God bless you” in his language, I was rewarded with a toothy smile. And then, the line of cars progressed forward, and we left him behind to continue his work.
As I think back to that moment, I wish I had more time. I regret not praying with that man. In the chaos of the moment I didn’t think of it. I didn’t think there was time, and I didn’t think I had the vocabulary necessary. So, while I am praying for that man now, I regret not being able to pray for him in person.
Perhaps I can’t claim it as a regret. I don’t think this situation could have changed, but I know that I am taking both of these experiences to heart. It’s the “what-ifs” that continue to plague my mind. What if I spoke to people in Spanish and had real conversations? Would I have had the opportunity to tell them about Jesus instead of just haggling over the price of a sombrero? What if I had prayed for the crippled man? Would we have witnessed the Lord healing him, or simply given him hope that people care?
It renewed in me my passion to help others. To reach out and show them God’s love and His hope. And most importantly, to realize I serve a big God. It doesn’t matter what my weaknesses are, because through Him, anything is possible.
I hope to live my life without regrets. I want the courage to be bold, and not be afraid of what others may say or think. I’m certain this will be a battle that will only end when I take my last breath, but until that time, I will continue to try.
Which brings me to today.
As I write this, I’m standing backstage at rehearsal for a Christmas production for our community. One of the parts I play is a singing shepherd. While I love to sing, I have almost zero confidence in my ability to do it well. I’ve always imagined that I’m the worshiper in church that makes a “joyful noise”.
So this is my chance. While I struggled with the courage to use my voice in Mexico, I now have another opportunity to try again. I will push past my timid spirit and I will trust that God is able to use me to minister to others (even through all my faults).
I have yet another opportunity to live life without regrets.