The Forgotten Regrets

What seems like many eons ago (really, only just 6 years ago),  I worked at a general surgeon’s clinic here in Charlotte, NC. I was there for seven years total, but learned so much about myself. Dealing with patients, co-workers, circumstances, and even just the day-to-day. Insurance. Insurance calls. Deductibles and payments. Billing. Front desk. Filing. Phones. Medical records. Scheduling. Medical assisting from time to time. And, ETC. In all of it, I had my opportunities to chose. Chose what, exactly?

I felt that literally every day I was at work, I had the opportunity to select my mood and my attitude. I almost checked-in with a “yes” or a “no” on whether or not I’d be someone who was shining Jesus or someone who was just not. In other words, I let my flesh take over and do as it would which felt good temporarily but left me with an empty feeling in the pit of my stomach.  Some days, I put my flesh down and gave God glory through my words and actions, and that felt GREAT. It was my choice though. Every day that I clocked in, I was someone who either had a positive outlook and actions or someone who was a Debbie Downer. I never was the Debbie Downer in the “Eeyore” sense of the word, but more in the sarcasm-with-a-sense-of-humor: which naturally fit more with my personality. I’m an upbeat person. I’m energetic. I’m ‘bubbly’ I guess you could say? Anyways–don’t let that particular personality type fool you for naturally positive. It still takes deciding to be genuine without cynicism and deciding to show Jesus. One can still be incredibly cynical and self-centered but “upbeat”. That was my “M.O.”, my modus operandi, during this season in my life.

There were many times I did shine God’s love. I chose to hold to Philippians 4:8. {Whatever is true, lovely, admirable, praiseworthy, excellent and noble}. Gosh, those days felt INCREDIBLE. It was like my soul got a shot of crisp and lovely peace. It felt fresh. It felt right.

But there were also many times I just did not show any part of heaven whatsoever. Regrettably. Sometimes it was through the form of gossip, speculation, judgment. Self-centered motives. You know, office stuff. If you’ve ever been part of an “office”, that is. It’s almost like an actual farm. (Literally, that was one of the nicknames some co-workers and I called it! “The Farm”.) I was brutal in my gossip and slander at times. I nicknamed and name-called. Looking back even now and truly reflecting on those years: It was truly noteworthy and witty humor. At the expense of others. However, hilarious in heaven’s eyes? Or Earth’s? Which one is fleeting and which one actually matters? Well, it was toxic. Straight up poisonous to my soul. Being a gossip and a slanderer will eat you up from the inside out. And on days when I really got going, I felt so dirty and eaten up with sin. I knew I was wrong. I was so convicted.

But, I will say– there were also times of genuine, good fun and laughter in the midst of it all. I have many fond memories! I still laugh to myself thinking of some of them. I did have some of the world’s best co-workers, and I still keep in touch with a few of them even today.

But goodness, God is really digging up some of my history lately. I need to deal with it permanently. Sometimes our future growth is hindered when the “old” us hasn’t been completely put to death. The enemy of our souls knows when to bring up things from our past to slap us in the face and distract/hinder true growth and progress. I’m displaying my soul here. I hope you, too, can search your heart for any of those gnawing things that need to go to the gallows. If it comes to mind and we don’t deal with it, it’s basically like us telling Jesus that what He did on the cross wasn’t “strong” enough to forgive us of our past crapshoots. Right? It is NOT God’s original design for us to live with regrets. Regrets feel like lead tied to your ankles as you go down in the sea.

You know what I regret? I regret playing along with my flesh so many times while working there at that clinic. So many times, I justified why gossip was right (because “they” were so wrong) or why what I was doing with talking about others in their flaws was “OK”. I regret feeling like a victim at times. I regret the gossip and the slander and the speculation. I regret the office “politics”. I just regret not showing Jesus 100% of the time. The thing is, I knew that ‘everyone’ knew I was a Christ-follower. I didn’t make that hidden. I just look back even now {as painful as it is to reflect on reality} and think: WOW. My words. My actions. Did they say anything about Jesus? At all? Yeah, at times. At the easy times. But harder ones when rubber met with hot pavement? Nah. I don’t think so, to be honest (not for much of the time, that is). It’s regrettable. Seemingly, so much time lost. Now that I am looking back on this as a bad C-rated movie, I am asking God: Take this regret. REDEEM this time. What your Son did on the cross has already covered this and may I move on from here. I won’t carry these past-doings and burdens any longer!

One other instance I particularly remember was with a patient. This was a very sweet patient with no ill feelings that come to mind even now. Only a sweet, smiling face amidst her pain of scars and stitches. I remember her name was Gail. She had survived a few surgeries due to pancreatic cancer that had metastasized to many parts of her body. One of the bigger surgeries she had is called the Whipple. Look it up; it’s a pretty gnarly surgical procedure. One of the doctors I worked for was one that was sought out for being a world-renowned surgeon for this type of surgery and even a believer in Christ himself. Such an inspiration! He may have had his hard days that I could see in his eyes when I was asking him about a very large payment due before surgery or even after, but he didn’t waver or let his tongue slip in a direction that would pinpoint to something that was not Jesus. I saw exhaustion many a time in his eyes as he came in the office at 8am from a surgery that had lasted way longer than expected from the day before. We had to reschedule his “day” of office appointments quite often to accommodate his LONG days (and nights). Imagine all that rescheduling. For but one patient. Yes, but for one. That was his “M.O.”

Back to Gail. Gail was his “for one” kind of patient. Survived all kinds of odds. Was back at the office for all kinds of things from weird intestinal symptoms to infected stitches–at least once every week for weeks after the Whipple.

I remember one particular sunny late afternoon though. Our office closed at 5pm on the dot She had driven up probably about 4:59pm to visit our office. No doubt, she was hoping for someone to still be present so she could get something looked at. I remember someone driving her, because I remember her being at the passenger side of the car.

Everyone else had left the office.

I was literally the last person that day to leave our parking lot. I had some billing stuff to get done before the next day, and I got it done.

I went to my car, as usual, started it, drove towards the EXIT as I saw it that day. I saw nothing else but a huge EXIT sign on that parking lot. I wanted OUT of there that day.

I drove up to where I could take a right or a left to get on the road home. I remember stopping and rolling down my window when I saw a patient standing outside of their car. I recognized Gail. I exchanged a couple of short sentences and a few “upbeat” things with her. Rays of sunshine were shining through her hair from where it was setting through the trees. I still remember her face. She had a look of desperation-but-peace. If I could describe her face now, over 10 years later, I wouldn’t do it justice. BUT, let me try! It was a face of:

“I got here JUST in time. I am hurting. I am scared. I need help. I think I can be helped? My family thinks I can be helped? I’m tired. I think this is what is done fighting feels like. What do I need to do? Am I being irrational? Is there anyone here right now to help? Can YOU help?”

GOODNESS! I’ll never forget the look on her face as she stood by the silver car she came in. The sun was still shining through her hair to make it look kind of auburn-ish, like mine. She was weak, so she held on to the door of the car. The day was perfect though–the sun was beautiful. It was warm for November. I remember stopping my car and talking loudly to her through my opened window. I remember telling her I was sorry the “office was closed” and I would make a note to have Dr. _____ call her tomorrow. I sure did. I made a “note”. I didn’t take the time to get out of my car though. I didn’t take the extra minutes out of my “precious” day to have a real ‘face-to-face’ with this person. I just didn’t. Looking back now? I wished more than anything I would have. I don’t think her outcome would have changed. But mine–probably would have. I had the chance to show kindness and I opted out. Man. It hurts so much to relive this. She watched me drive away.

Gail passed away not two weeks after this encounter. I remember seeing it come through on the fax machine in the nurse’s station. I remember the punch in the gut it seemed like. I almost took it personally and saw her face on that warm afternoon in my mind’s eye. I had the opportunity to show kindness and compassion. Not that anything I could have done would have made her stay on Earth. No way! BUT…what if? What if she would have had something to impart that I needed to hear? She knew Jesus. That was evident in her walk–and her visits at our clinic. What if I would have taken those extra minutes and went the extra mile for her? If nothing else, just to be the hands and feet of Jesus.

I guess this breaks my heart so much now because God has really grown and nurtured my compassion and kindness levels since that part of my life. I am not where I need to be, but will any of us ever be? Not here! But we can constantly grow and learn and glean more of heaven’s love and spread it all around.

So, those are my two big, ugly ‘forgotten’ regrets that God restored to memory so I could cast them off for good. I am not the same person as I was then. I daresay the same for you. If you’re struggling with past stuff, dig it up just to nail it up {on the cross}.