I find that writing things down helps me organize what needs to be done. It also clarifies my thinking. I think I overdid the writing down at one point, though, when I found myself making a list of regrets. I hadn't gone far with it when I realized that instead of clarifying my thinking, it merely stirred up negative behaviors and attitudes that had been buried and should best be left behind.
Having brought them to the surface, though, I realized that I needed to do more than bury them again. I needed to expunge them from my thinking. Why let yesterday's baggage take up space that today's inspiration had a legitimate right to?
It often seems easier to ruminate over a problem or a nagging disquietude than to promptly get rid of it. We get drawn into the details – maybe the "he said, she said" aspect of things – and it's hard to let them go. But fixating on the problem only prolongs its hold on us. It's much more productive to set aside a few minutes to begin feeling the calming presence of God's thoughts, to pray for His peace, right where the clamoring seems to be.
Whatever past regret or other experience slips in to eclipse my view of my relationship with God, it comes without any authority to support it. When I resolutely refute it for what it is – simply a suggestion – it can't gain a foothold. If some unhappiness appears to gain a foothold, as the regrets had, I can reject it as not having any source in God, the one Mind. As Mind's idea, or spiritual offspring, I don't need to accept anything into my thought that isn't good or healing. As I've grown more confident of this spiritual fact, I've seen it strip negativity of any power or right to reside in my thinking.
No matter how aggressive the situation may seem to be in its clamor for attention, we can refuse it a place in our consciousness. But we can make room for prayer – as I chose to do in clearing out the unwanted regrets.
A hymn with words by James Montgomery, one of nine of his that appear in the "Christian Science Hymnal" (No. 284), defined the prayer that I was beginning to feel:
Prayer is the heart's sincere desire,
Uttered or unexpressed;
The motion of a hidden fire
That trembles in the breast. Prayer is the simplest form of speech
That infant lips can try;
And prayer's sublimest strain doth reach
The Majesty on high.
With the assurance contained in that last statement, I prayed for the desire to turn away from dwelling on these past regrets, whether they seemed significant or not, and to feel God's presence with me right then. I was encouraged when the idea came that none of the things I regretted doing had been repeated. I even recalled several opportunities for restitution. Viewed in this way, my list had become a reminder of lessons well learned. I could go forward, unburdened by the fruitless ponderings I'd let take hold in my thinking.
Each day holds out the promise of fresh beginnings. Why be weighed down by yesterday's baggage, whether regrets, lost opportunities, wrong decisions, or simply things you think you should have done, but didn't? You can keep alive the "sincere desire" found in the hymn by making restitution where needed and taking hold of today with renewed conviction of God's ever-presence in your life. I've made a pact with myself to keep focused on God and to accept the good that acknowledging His presence brings to each of my days.
With these new insights, I tore up the regret list and dropped the pieces into the wastebasket where they belonged. The day looked brighter already!