We all have regrets. Every now and then I watch a reporter try to trap the person he/she is interviewing by asking, “do you have any regrets?” The person who is being interviewed momentarily sees flashes of headlines such as “President regrets not raising taxes,” or “Movie star regrets not sleeping with leading actor.” So the interviewee usually either denies regrets or dodges the question. I personally have lots, but I try not to dwell on them; yet occasionally I have what is called an “I wish.” Yesterday when I was writing about listening to God, I thought to myself, “ I really wish I had talked more with my father.” Not that he was “God” or even in a young boy’s eyes – God, that was hardly the case. No the “I wish” came from the fact I know very little about his boyhood, his father and mother, or his experiences in WWII and the Korean War. My dad seldom talked about himself and never talked about either war, I have learned that this was a common among soldiers who served during those days. For example, he would never allow a gun in our house, even a cap pistol, although I later read a description of him during the war carrying his “ever present sidearm.” I asked the author about the discrepancy and his reaction was simply, “Webb, I am not surprised he felt that way. I think it was up to him to tell you why, but I am not surprised.” I am frustrated that I didn’t have the foresight to ask about his parents, his mother’s early death, his relationship to his father, and his boyhood. My Dad was gone before I was old enough and I had the sense to ask my questions. So now all my questions remain unanswered.
So what does this have to do about anything? Perhaps all this “I wish” regret is about some questions, I have yet to pose to God, or I have asked, but have failed to listen to the answers. Then again maybe it is about losing more opportunities to ask questions and to learn from the answers. How many times have I greeted someone with a “How are you doing?” and have received the response, “as well as can be expected.” There is a lot behind such a response if we only inquire. Perhaps we don’t follow up because we expect a long dreary monologue. We expect complaints, hard luck, and even a few tears if we get to even asking. We dread feeling awkward, inadequate and bored. However every now and then we are wrong on every count. None of the things we expect occur; instead, we are invited into someone’s unique and fascinating world. At times we may even hear God answering our question to him through the words of someone else. Yes, my friend, God speaks to us often times through the stories of another.
Your friend, Webb