“I should have known.”

“I could have done better.”

“I would have made a different choice if I knew then what I know now.”

Are these laments as familiar to you as they are to me? Chances are you’ve proclaimed at least a few in your lifetime. I’ve had regrets at times, and once in a while, a new one will surface.

My husband Charles hung a little plaque on the wall near his desk that says, “Freedom is terrifying. It makes you responsible for yourself.” How true. We can’t be free and guilty at the same time. I’m opting for freedom, which to me means accepting responsibility for the things I can’t change, the courage to change what I can, and the willingness to turn the rest over to God who can renew all of them.

I learned something positive and important from the writings of Brother Lawrence, (The Practice of the Presence of God), a lay brother who lived in a Carmelite monastery during the 17th century. He devoted himself to doing all things for the love of God, confessing his sins quickly, and then returning to actions and thoughts that glorified his Lord. He encouraged others not to waste their time going over the past, missed opportunities, mistakes, and sins. Doing so took precious time away from loving and honoring God.

Rather, he suggested, acknowledge your wrongdoings, ask for forgiveness, and then carry on, living a life of simplicity and gratitude, loving God in even the smallest ways, such as sweeping the floor of the monastery kitchen where he performed his daily tasks.

This powerful teaching has helped me drop my shouldas, couldas, and wouldas and spend the rest of my life expressing my love for God and receiving His love for me, so that others might also find this way of life that brings contentment and clarity of conscience.

Want to join me? I can’t think of a better way to live life on the up side than to abide in God’s comfort and counsel.

Cast your cares on the LORD and he will sustain you;

he will never let the righteous fall (Psalm 55:22).



Giving Up Shoulda, Coulda, and Woulda! — 8 Comments

  1. Karen, I love this one and appreciate your wisdom in reminding us to ” receive God’s love for us”. It is a ‘free’ gift but I need to remember that a gift is not a gift until we receive it and we cannot share something that we have not received for ourselves. I have had a copy of Brother Lawrence’s book for many years and consider it priceless! I thought of my Dad when I read the words: “Loving God in even the smallest ways, such as sweeping the floor of the monastery kitchen….” because my Dad was the Janitor of one of the churches he served as Pastor. He kept the whole church clean, built the fire in the furnace in the winter months and did a lot of the maintenance. Dad was always available to clean or do anything that needed to be done in the way of maintenance at the all the churches he served. At this church, however, I hasten to say that the reason he accepted the ‘position’ of permanent Janitor is so he could draw Social Security when he retired. At the time ministers were not allowed to draw SS because the churches had not paid into SS. Even tho this was the reason he accepted the position he was always a hummble man and no job was beneath his dignity.
    Thank you for sharing thoughts we should remember !
    Love to you-and tell Charles I like the “quote about Freedom he has near his desk! I think I will share that one a lot !

    • Thanks, Margaret. Your stories from the past are precious. I hope you are keeping them written somewhere to pass on to your children and grandchildren. I really appreciate your faithful reading of my blogs.

  2. Regret is a terrible burden to live with. I long ago recognized the dangers of “should have,” “could have,” and “would have.” They are more than words – they are a destructive frame of mind, an attitude that prevents us from “pressing on to what is ahead.” But it’s so easy to slip back into “the shouldas.” Thank you for this timely reminder to remember the lessons from the past,and to move into the future with confidence because our Creator God will never leave or forsake us! May Gid continue to use your practical, down-to-earth writings to draw others close to Him.

    • Thanks, Michele. I like the bible verse about God never leaving nor forsaking us and yet we seem to forsake ourselves by dwelling on the past with the ‘shouldas.’ I appreciated your kind words about my writing, as well.

  3. Karen,

    I “shoulda” learned this sooner.
    I “coulda” saved myself some heartache.
    I “woulda” been more content with my life at a younger age.

    Thanks for teaching me again!I’ll try to pass it on…

    Smiles, BRC

  4. Karen, thank you so much for the message. It couldn’t have come a better time. I’ve been “shoulda-ing” and kicking myself for quitting my job as a public school teacher while still trying to heal from the trauma, stress and physical ailment that chaotic job caused me … How ironic … I gotta to learn to stop doing it. And I loved your husband’s motto about the fear of freedom because we realize we are responsible for our own life … how wise … and I was so fascinated by your account of Brother Lawrence’s saint life … I decided to amazon the book first before I respond to this widsom-filled comforting message. I just got the book and love reading it … to practice feeling the presence of God… exactly what I need.

    Thank you so very much, for the spiritual nourishment. Love everything you write.

    • Thank you, Jing. I hope Brother Lawrence’s way of life will bless you as it has me.

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