How to Overcome Regret in 3 Steps: A Cake Walk

Written by on April 3, 2018

Shoulda, coulda, woulda. I thought I kicked them to the curb years ago. But it looks like the Huey, Dewey, and Louie of the kingdom of darkness are still kickin’ it. Grrr!

Do you second-guess yourself as often as I do?

Easter Sunday, Emily and I went to Ben’s church, Beaverton Foursquare Church, to see him in a funny youth department play about the Disciples in the Upper Room. Ben played Doubting Thomas, and he doubted everything!

My son Ben (the now-grown-up kid from The Quest for Self-Forgiveness) turned 30 last week.  He loves performances, both watching them and performing in them. He’s really quite gifted.

We treated him to an evening of barbershop quartet music, Balladtown USA, with resonant, vibrant a cappella melodies filling the auditorium. We laughed. We applauded.

On Easter, Ben and his lovely wife, Jill, and their kids, Logan and Paige, spent the day. We took family photos. We played a fun board game called Dixit. We ate ham and potato casserole.

Then, as we finished up the meal, Ben opened a gift from Jill and his four-year-old son Logan began to sing, “Happy birthday to you!”

Suddenly I froze. A hare-in-the-headlights moment.

There was no cake.


2 helium balloons
1 Happy Birthday decoration
0 cake.

Head-smacking time.

“No cake?”  I said to myself. “How could you be so forgetful?”

Here are 3 things the Holy Spirit showed me to battle regret:

1.) Be transformed by the renewing of your mind (Romans 12:2).
Battle condemnation by saying aloud: Therefore, there is now no condemnation for _______ (your name). I’m in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:1).  

2.)  Journal what you’ve done right. 

Shared musical experience.Check.
Shared board game with joyful laughter. Check.
Shared family dialogue, complete with affirmation. Check.
Funny hamster card complete with money. Check.
Special prayer time in the kitchen, blessing his 30th birthday. Check.
Jumbo hugs, complete with “I’m proud of you.” Check.

3.) Post in a prominent place: “Paid in full.”
I wrote this on the white board over my dining room table tonight. Rewind to 9 Monday morning:

First thought that came to me: “I blew it! Last night! No cake. No cake. No cake.

“Why can’t I get this out of my head? And now, on top of that, I’m mad at myself for being mad at myself! Aargh.”

A while later,  I called an Oregon clinic to check on a bill. I asked, “What is my account balance?”
The clerk replied, “You have a zero balance.”
My face lit up.
Something dropped into my spirit.

A zero balance. That’s what I owe God.  

 Paid. In. Full.

That’s what we owe after Christ’s redemptive act on the cross.
That’s what we owe for beating ourselves up.
That’s what we owe because Christ rose from the dead.


God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God (2 Cor. 5:21).

I walk forward in the confidence that anything I’ve broken—no matter how big or small—was paid for on the cross.

I’ve got a zero balance.

And so do you.

Friend, how do you battle regret? What is your “birthday cake” that you left out of the picture? Which of the 3 steps above resonates?

Rise to freedom!


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  1. Susan   On   April 4, 2018 at 7:58 pm

    “Be transformed by the renewing of your mind (Romans 12:2).” Resonates most with me. Proverbs 23:7: “As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he”. It is amazing to see the power of what our minds dwell on!

  2. Lindy Swanson   On   April 6, 2018 at 8:39 pm

    “There is now no condemnation for _______ (your name). I’m in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:1)” is what the Holy Spirit keeps reminding me. Thank you, Jesus!

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