Can I Have a Do-Over?
Have you ever done or said something and suddenly or soon thereafter wished you could take it back or have a redo? Unlike TV shows or fantasy fiction we cannot undo the past. In fact, one of the most certain things we have in life is what has already happened. You must live with your decisions. But how do those decisions affect you in the long term?
Many years ago, 20 now to be exact, I was riding my brother’s bike on a warm August day down the sidewalk in front of our family’s home in Louisville, Kentucky. I had secured the bicycle after protesting my mother’s initial misgivings about me riding a bike that one, was bigger than mine and two had handle brakes which I was unused to. She was baking cookies and decided not to argue with me further. As I wheeled my prize out to the driveway I took no thought for the future, only the impending adventure I was about to enjoy. Less than 30 minutes later I lost control of that bike and went face first over the handle bars and skidded violently into the pavement. Or so I’m told because you see I have no memory of what happened. My face however told much of the story.
I remember waking in the ambulance and being unable to move. I was told to stay still and I can still hear a voice asking my mother questions. I can hear her voice talking to me and telling me it was going to be all right. Little did she know that after they had done a CT scan on me, sewn my bottom lip torn like a piece of paper towards my chin, bandaged my scars and run numerous tests, that four weeks later an aneurysm would form in the upper lobe of my brain.
Our family was out late at another family’s house. We got home, and I had become somewhat quiet and non-responsive in the back seat of our ’88 Plymouth voyager. My Dad carried me into the house and laid me at the foot of the stairs to the second story of our home. He instructed me to get up, put my pj’s on and go to bed. Mom came, but minutes later, and half dragged me up the stairs laying me near the bathroom door. I should insert here that I was a known sleepy head and unresponsive once I was asleep. I began violently throwing up on the bathroom floor and try as I might could not move my body to the toilet. Mom and Dad came in and tried to get me there, Mom kept telling me to sit up and finally Dad said, “Pam, maybe he can’t”. I tried to respond to my Dad’s questions, but it was as if all my motor function skills were gone. Actually, that is exactly what had happened. My aneurysm had bled, instead of bursting like most do and it was causing me to have a seizure.
My family got me to the hospital and wouldn’t you know it God had the most renown brain surgeon at the time touring Kosair Childrens’ hospital that night. The last time my parents saw me I had tubes out my face, shaved head and taped eyes. 9 and a 1/2 hours later they would receive the words that I was in recovery. But along the way so many things would happen in surgery. The vein around the aneurysm was clear, but they put two titanium clamps in my head to hold the ends of the destroyed vein.
Obviously I survived, and let me tell you I’ve omitted hours of this story. I had to learn to walk again, saw double vision for months, had the worst headaches you can imagine, days of being carried to the bathroom, being bathed because I had so many wires connected to my body. I still have the scar on my right hand where they tried unsuccessfully to stick an IV in me. I have the scar on my head that runs from sideburn to sideburn that reminds me of all this and more.
All this because I chose to ride my brothers bike on that warm August afternoon in 1996. What if I hadn’t? Our decisions do affect us. What if I could have a do over, would I take it? Have you ever wished you could have a do over? Maybe meet someone for the first time again or maybe a second chance at a first date.
I’ve been thinking a lot about do overs lately. You’ve heard the saying; “You only get one chance at a first impression”. Every day is our only opportunity for what we do with that day. Are you living with regret for things you wish you could change? You can’t have those situations back,’ but even if you could should you change the past?
The past affects the future. Thank you captain obvious, right? Consider Romans 8:28, a verse we are all likely familiar with, “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.” God works in and through your decisions to bring about His perfect will. Perhaps you should have made a different choice to avoid painful outcomes but does that limit what God can and, according to Romans 8 will do through that mistake? When we live in the past and dwell on our mistakes, we limit the reality of the sovereignty of God in our lives. That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t learn from our mistakes or choices, or even that we shouldn’t ask forgiveness for when we are wrong, but we cannot allow those choices to control our current reality out of fear or discouragement for what might have been.
If I could go back to August, 1996 when I was standing in front of 2306 Burrell drive, would I change my decision to ride my brother’s bike that day? It is not for me to decide. The choice was made and now it is up to me to live with the reality that my decisions have made. God’s grace is sufficient for your mistakes and your wiser choices. Do not actively resist that grace by dwelling on your mistakes.
There are moments I have wished I could take something back or have a redo. But I cannot go back. So I’ll work on moving forward and using the time I am given. Hindsight is a funny thing, it can be a source of great discouragement if you let it. Let it motivate you to live more fully for Christ and in His grace. Live! Every moment.