“If I could do it all over again, I’d do everything exactly the same way.” Sound familiar? Or, maybe you heard it put like this, “If I had to live my life over, I wouldn’t change a thing.” While such boasts are common, you won’t hear them from me. I do have regrets. There are words I wish I never uttered, things I’ve done I’d prefer to do over, and people I’ve hurt that I wish I hadn’t.
Do You Have Regrets?
Time and experience have been great tutors. They lead me to the way of wisdom and smack me when I flirt with folly. Many lessons have been learned the hard way, and often at the expense of others. I regret this most of all. Now, God is faithful to forget my many blunders, but if “re-dos” were possible, I’d jump at the chance. I wish to share one example.
It was in the late sixties when Anti-Semitism once again raised its foul head. Although there was talk of peace and love back then, hate-talk was also quite common, especially against Jews. Even kids got in on the ugly action. I noticed it the first day of junior high. Pennies were thrown at newcomers. For those daring enough to pick them up, they were hazed and called “Jews.”
Is it any wonder Robert Zimmerman changed his name to Bob Dylan? All the while we listened to his anti-war anthems, we were telling “Jew” jokes. This part of American sixties culture was also ‘Blowin’ in the Wind’ but we don’t dare talk about it now. Today, however, I’m making an exception. This is my story. It’s my confession of how hatred ruled my heart, in the Age of Aquarius, when peace ruled the planet, and Jupiter aligned with mars.
We were doing what all kids do, riding bikes. Mike was on his stingray, Richard was on his and I was on mine. We were embarking on a grand old time. Being the funny guy, I couldn’t wait to tell the latest Jew joke. It didn’t go over well. Mike was the first to speak up. “You shouldn’t joke like that, “ he warned. “Richard is Jewish!”
I was certain Mike was pulling my leg. It couldn’t be. Richard didn’t fit the profile. “No way,” I laughed.” But Mike insisted it was true. I insisted he was wrong. “Jews are #$%^+)!!!” I argued. Things got ugly. To be more specific, I got ugly. I went on a mad rant, bashing the Jewish people with every bit of ammo I had. I looked to Richard to back me up. He quickly rode off, leaving behind a trail of tears. That’s when it hit me. Richard really was Jewish. And I had no good reason for hating him.
For the first time I understood regret, and it rocked me. How could I be so cruel to someone so kind? It didn’t make any sense. My hatred didn’t make sense. I knew that the moment Richard left crying. There I stood, speechless, feeling nothing but guilt and shame.
Before long, I found myself knocking on Richard’s door. His mom answered. She killed me on the spot. She really did! She killed me with kindness! “We’re people just like you,” the dear woman tenderly smiled. Then she led me to Richard’s room. He was quick to forgive and forget. His mom also forgave me. She didn’t say those exact words, but that’s the message I got when she brought the milk and cookies.
That’s the day my Jew-hate died.
Years later, a Messianic Jew by the name of Jeff introduced me Jesus. I was hesitant at first to come to Him. Not because Jesus is Jewish, but because I had racked up heaps more of guilt and shame. Jesus gladly took it. In exchange, He gave me forgiveness.
This is why I’m a Jew-lover today – a Jew-lover without regret.
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