“And at the end of your life you groan, when your flesh and body are consumed.”
“What will your deathbed regrets be?” God asked me as I sat at Starbucks, enjoying a decaf latte late in the afternoon.
“Really God? Are we going to have this conversation now?” I drummed my fingers on the table to show my annoyance. All I wanted to do was to relax after a long day.
“Write down the names of the people you’ve hurt,” God instructed. I sighed and pulled out my writer’s notebook from my purse.
“People I’ve hurt? What about the people who have hurt me?” God’s silent reply spoke volumes.
“Okay. Okay.” I shook my head and wrote down the names of the people I had hurt due to my shortcomings.
“Write down all of the dreams I’ve given you that you haven’t fulfilled,” God said. I pushed the pencil across the paper, writing down the aspirations I’ve not yet accomplished for one reason or another.
“Now write down the ways in which you’ve been unkind to yourself— pushing too hard, expecting too much— then turn the page over and write down the one word that shows up in all of your regrets.”
“I don’t understand,” I said.
“There is a common denominator that runs through all of the regrets you’ll have at the end of your life,” He explained. “It causes you to hurt others. It causes you to be unable to fulfill the dreams I give you. It keeps you from treating yourself with kindness. It even keeps you from me. You know what it is.”
I did indeed. It is what ruins everything good in life. I wrote the word in big capital letters across the page: FEAR
“The antidote for fear is love,” God whispered. “Love those you’ve hurt. Love those who have hurt you. Love yourself. Allow my love to light the way so that the dreams I have given you can come to fruition. Don’t let fear ruin your life. Live your life fearlessly. Love with your whole heart. When you love, you don’t hurt others. You don’t hurt yourself. And, you don’t hurt Me. If you love with your whole heart, you will have few deathbed regrets.”
“Thank you,” I said, and tucked the notebook back into my purse. I promised to repair the relationships I’ve damaged over the years. I promised to love myself more and to follow the dreams God has given me. But mostly I promised to allow God’s love to banish the fear that leads to regrets.
I finished my latte and walked out into the softness of the autumn day; the smell of wood smoke settled down around me. Leaves scattered across the road. I felt God’s warmth wrap around me. It felt incredibly good. It felt like peace.