When We Build Fences of Regret

Who doesn’t regret something in their lives? You can’t be in this world, have any sort of history, and not have regret.

Over choices you made. Or didn’t make.

Over people you hurt. Or didn’t love enough.

Over misunderstandings, missteps, mistakes.

It’s tempting to hang onto the regret, to coddle the remorse we feel and believe that living with regret makes us a better person.

Our life’s address could be The Land of Regret.

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I’ll just build a fence here and live safely with my regrets.

But doing that might also fence out the possibilities.

Lead women in studying Scripture? Oh, can’t do that. There was that season when I turned my back on God.

Help a young mother overwhelmed by life? Not qualified. I didn’t always do it so well myself.

Pray with a friend whose marriage is in trouble? Been there, failed and had to start again.

Make a new friend and invite her into my world? I’ve lost friends because I couldn’t give enough.

Take the hand of a child in danger of stepping off the path? But what do I know? I once took a path less traveled and paid the price.

Heed the call to leadership? I’ve stumbled before and it hurt. Safer not to put myself out there.

We’ve failed. We’ve messed up. We’re not enough. We have regrets.

So we build fences.

no trespassing

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I’ll only go this far, and you can only come this far, because this is where I am safe. It’s where I know what to expect and where I won’t mess up.

But then I’ve got to ask — who do I think is in charge here? Who cleaned up my messes in the past? Who covers it all, forgives it all? Who has a plan and will work that plan with or without me?

And who am I to say I won’t go and do and be all that the God of the Universe says He wants from me?

God works His perfect plan most perfectly when he uses His broken, stained, imperfect creation to touch the broken, stained, imperfect people in this world.

Now, why would I not want to be part of that. Why would I not trust the One who is most trustworthy to pick me up when I stumble and clean up my messes.

I can build my secure little fence and stay here nursing my regrets, or I can fling open the gate and let the world in. Or better yet, step out into the world and join God where He is already working. I’m betting that in the process of taking down that fence, flinging open the gate, I’ll see the regrets flee as well.

And in their place? Possibilities.



Thought-provoking-thursday-banner_NEWSharing these thoughts today at 3DLessons4Life with Lyli Dunbar for Thought-Provoking Thursday. Go here to read more.




  1. Tara

    Thanks for this post my friend. You are so right we all have regrets and put up fences. Yet God uses Gods broken creation to make something so beautiful. I think it is so easy for us to forget that!

  2. carolapv

    We all need this encouragement. God works in our brokenness for His glory. I’m your neighbor at Thought Provoking Thursday. I’m glad I stopped by.

  3. Ingrid, you hit the nail on the head for me in this post, and I’m sure for so many others. Whenever I think of you, I am reminded of your friendly smile and kind voice. You made a lasting impression on me. I’m going to enjoy reading your posts. You are a blessing!

  4. I love this. I love when the Holy Spirit allows us to see the spiritual in the everyday. Love this metaphor. And it’s so true. And I have been guilty of using those same excuses! Visiting from 3DLessons4Life. Great post!

  5. Thanks for dropping by, Mary! It’s wonderful to see how many lessons God has tucked into nature, into our everyday lives. I’m trying to tear down some of my own fences (and avoid building new ones), so this is a reminder for me, as well.

  6. Ingrid, I like your new site and I appreciated your post on fences. I think it hits many people. Your photos of fences were a great visual to make the fence idea more powerful. While we do have to exercise good boundaries in relationships, we don’t want fences so high no one can see over.

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