I call it the “someday I am gonna,” syndrome, the procrastinator’s poem. My thoughts venture into regrettable choices and missed opportunities as I approach the final chapter in life; I made a Jethro Bowl full of dumb-ass turns and regret everyone. Someday, I am gonna wash these regrets away and lighten my load.
Mistakes never fade away; instead, a millstone of regret grows. In John Bunyan’s The Pilgrim’s Progress, the main character Christian speaks of this regret and sin burden:
Must the burden fall from off my back! Must the strings that bound it to me crack! It is always hard to see the purpose in wilderness wanderings until after they are over.
Wilderness wanderings, the road I chose. I wandered in the desert of foolishness and wound up in rocky terrain, perceiving no way out. Pleasure ruled my selfish direction; if it felt good—perfect. Avoid it like the plague if it meant blood, sweat, and tears. Self-indulgence appeared perfect for the first three decades; then, the Jericho Jim walls came crumbling down. Fun-loving turned into pissed-off. Nothing came easy; in fact, I lost everything. Every plan failed. I was Sisyphus, I would roll the rock uphill, and just as I would near the top, the rock would roll back upon me, and I was at the bottom once again.
A sorrowful soul is like a house gone to disrepair; rebuilding it requires some tearing down, a new foundation laid, then a one-board-at-a-time reconstruction. Then, one Sunday morning, when I was hungover and feeling low down, I challenged God to a deal—if He would show me the way out of this deep well of pity and regret—I would commit my remaining years to His service. God heard my prayers and plea, then initiated my character rebuild. The teardown was agonizing; any attempt to escape the pain was laborious and futile. I fruitlessly tried to postpone quoting the procrastinator poem—God, let’s start this another day. Before I could drag my feet, God gave me a clear look at my dark soul and said, “No time to waste, Jim, no time to waste.”
In this life, two dynamics rule regret; fear and timidity. The only antidotes are Love and Courage:
There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love.
~ 1 John 4:18
Since I was five years old, I have had anxiety issues; the fear entered when my Father died in an auto accident. So fear has always had a grip on me. I eventually have forced my anxiety into a high-functioning brand and used that fear to propel me through tough times. Still, I’m not fond of confronting unpleasant circumstances or dealing with complex issues. I understand that someday may never come; at any moment, I could draw my last breath. As Christian, from Pilgrim’s Progress finally did, I dropped the sin, regret, and fear burden at the Cross—I dropped my anxiety there also:
Do Not Worry
“Therefore, I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink, or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you, by worrying, add a single hour to your life?
“And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.
I share this testimonial to remind you that God is in control, and we have nothing to fear. We are all in a small boat in a great storm of fear, just as the disciples were—they panicked because they forgot who was in the boat—Jesus.
Worry has consumed the 2020’s; a tiny virus has frozen most of the world in the dark clutches of freaked out over nothing. Humanity hides behind masks, burying itself in dark safe rooms, personal bunkers, and quarantine facilities. Many believe it is perilous to move ahead until the coast is clear. Life has become the procrastinators’ poem—can be confronted another day. According to the National Safety Council, your odds of dying in a car crash are 1 in 107 based on 2019 figures. The odds of dying from Covid if healthy, without co-morbidities, even at my age, is 1 in 248. So you are twice as likely to die in a car accident as COVID. Yet, most people have no concern about getting in a car—they put on their safety belts. Facing COVID, there are proven prophylactic’s for the healthy and new Monoclonal antibody therapies for the at risk. My opinion is that the data does not support the value of the JAB.
Why then is the world so freaked out about it? My anxiety has driven me forward through all the hype and imagined risk. I have traveled extensively, visiting friends and engaging in social gatherings (without masks). Covid is like the flu; you can’t run or hide—my vote is, let’s get moving on with living and stop procrastinating. As my good friend once said, “We all have an expiration date.” God did not tell us the date because He knew it would cause great anxiety—remember Jesus is in the boat.
I still suffer from anxiety, but the demon is in chains. I live by faith, knowing God is in control; I am ready whenever He calls me home—by a covid, car accident, or old age. Knowing this, I can live a life free from debilitating fear. Many have freely given up most of these past two years to fear, and the procrastinator poem—”Someday, when it is safe, I will go out, commune, love, enjoy life—Someday when it is safe.”
As for us, we will spend our time in the storm hanging with Jesus, content in our circumstances.
Writing a personal testimonial and sharing it with the world fuels my anxiety, but it is integral to my rebuild. If there is something good you want to do in life, something that has been haunting or calling you to do—start it now, for tomorrow may never come.
Please don’t do it the Hard Way!
“It’s not my way; I fought every step; I wandered the wilderness in search of pleasure; I was blind, but now I can see.”