In Others’ Words: Regrets

“You canโ€™t start the next chapter of your life if you keep re-reading the last one.” ~Unknown

When you think about it, that quote makes a lot of sense.

Focus on the past? There’s no way you’ll achieve forward motion into the future. Keep looking back over your shoulder? You’ll miss the opportunities waiting for you here and now.

You get the point.

But do we? How often do we waste precious minutes and hours mulling over the memories of times past instead of moving on to today … and tomorrow? Don’t get me wrong. I’m all for savoring memories. I love a good stroll down memory lane, arms linked with beloved family and friends.

But as the saying goes: (All of) that was then. (All of) this is now.

In Your Words: Whatcha’ been reading? Is it time to turn the page on a certain life chapter? Time to focus on the next chapter in your life? Just for fun: Anybody catch the “that’s peculiar” part of the photo for today’s post?

photo by mmagallan/


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  1. January 16, 2012, 5:26 am   /  Reply

    Wow – I LOVE that quote, Beth! And I love your thoughts that go with it.

    • Beth Vogt
      January 16, 2012, 6:57 am   /  Reply

      Good morning, Katie.
      As a debut author, I’m not surprised that you love this quote. Looking forward to your novel coming out in May!

  2. Teri Smith
    January 16, 2012, 6:39 am   /  Reply

    Fun picture, Beth! Did they count down the chapter backwards in that book?

  3. Beth Vogt
    January 16, 2012, 6:58 am   /  Reply

    Good guess — but that’s not the peculiar thing about today’s photo. And here’s a hint: It wouldn’t be peculiar for everyone …

  4. January 16, 2012, 7:16 am   /  Reply

    Is it your book?

    Straining for what is ahead…I’m moving forward. It can be a strain and a struggle, but it’s best and it’s freeing.
    ~ Wendy

    • Beth Vogt
      January 16, 2012, 7:31 am   /  Reply

      I wish.
      I like your attitude … moving forward — hard work — but it’s freeing.

  5. January 16, 2012, 7:30 am   /  Reply

    That quote is so true. And sometimes we keep reading that last chapter because it’s so comfortable where we are. Starting a new chapter can be very scary. Like starting a new book…one that you don’t have all the pieces to yet. Great post, Beth.

  6. January 16, 2012, 7:33 am   /  Reply

    Ooh, chapter 51 looks like a cover…so, is the book starting over at chapter 51…in a way, our lives “start over” at each chapter, too, if we let them. Each day, really, if we’re willing to let yesterday be yesterday and today be today. I often ping-pong between focusing on yesterday and focusing on tomorrow…and then miss out on today. Silly Melissa.

    • Beth Vogt
      January 16, 2012, 7:41 am   /  Reply

      I had to go look at the photo again to see what you saw. That’s not it, but I liked your analogy …

  7. January 16, 2012, 7:40 am   /  Reply

    Great quote to start the week off with! I’ve found looking forward is freeing and living in the past is debilitating. The direction I go, may not always be exactly right, but I’ve found God is big enough to fix that. The important thing to remember is that its much easier to change the direction of something if it’s moving and not at a dead stop!

    • Beth Vogt
      January 16, 2012, 7:42 am   /  Reply

      Excellent insight, Edie. It’s always easier to change direction if we’re already moving!

  8. Cindy R. Wilson
    January 16, 2012, 8:23 am   /  Reply

    I love the quote – another of those that speaks to me at this time in my life. I’m definitely heading toward the next chapter, tying up loose ends so I can be confident and not look back on certain things. Thanks for the post!

    • Beth Vogt
      January 16, 2012, 8:45 am   /  Reply

      So glad you were encouraged by today’s quote!

  9. Sonia Meeter
    January 16, 2012, 8:46 am   /  Reply

    The book is written in Spanish, I believe. I don’t speak the language so hard to say for sure.)

    I loved the quote because I often get trapped in the thinking that I wish I could go back & do things differently. It’s a good reminder to keep my focus on the things I can do today to effect better results for the future.

    • Beth Vogt
      January 16, 2012, 8:55 am   /  Reply

      Ding, ding, ding! We have a winner!
      Yep, the book is written in Spanish!!
      Good eye, Sonia.
      And, yes, all those regrets — they won’t change a thing.

  10. January 16, 2012, 9:09 am   /  Reply

    Oh! I thought I was so smart to catch how peculiar that chp 51 was so far from the end of the book too. Okay, you got me. ๐Ÿ™‚

    Shelving prior chapters in our lives should be done with honesty, prayer, forgiveness (giving or seeking) and then turning the page. It shouldn’t be done by shoving the book under the bed and pretending it didn’t happen, especially if what we’re trying to forget involves the need to make right a wrong. I am all for learning from my mistakes so I don’t repeat them (the thesis for my PhD in Learning Stuff The Hard Way). That’s important. But re-reading past chapters of our lives and focusing on our failings now makes it so much harder to get anywhere, like wearing 100lb pack while hiking a hill. Needlessly. Past mistakes are like a medical syringe: they have great value if used correctly, but once used, they also require being correctly disposed of so as not to cause harm.

    It’s important to read those prior chapters if there’s something important to do or learn from them: repent, make amends, whatever; and then turn the page and don’t flip back. The Lord forgives and forgets. So can we with his help. He cleanses, renews and empowers, and for that, I am so glad. Because of his amazing grace, I’m able to stare down the next blank page with hope, a prayer of faith, and even half a smile.

    • Beth Vogt
      January 16, 2012, 9:23 am   /  Reply

      And this is why I am hanging with you, friend.
      I like the way you think, write, process … live.

  11. January 16, 2012, 9:13 am   /  Reply

    Ah, missed Sonia’s comment while I was typing mine. Good eye! I can’t even see the text! I guess I will remember to zoom in next time I’m looking for something. See, I learned something new already…. ๐Ÿ™‚

    Now that makes me wonder: Do Spanish books always have so many chapters?

    • Beth Vogt
      January 16, 2012, 9:23 am   /  Reply

      Great application, Camille.

  12. Jeanne T
    January 16, 2012, 9:27 am   /  Reply

    What a true quote, Beth. I love your thoughts as well. Thought provoking. Over the last few years, my goal has been to live life without regrets. I’ve certainly got plenty from years past that I can’t change. With God’s help, I’ve learned to close the book on those and read in the present. One thing I’m trying to teach my kids is to have a heart of gratitude. When things haven’t gone the way they wanted, the first words out of their mouths is, “I wish…..” I’m trying to help them find things to be thankful for in the present situation or present day. I’m also learning to apply that to my own life.

    • Beth Vogt
      January 16, 2012, 10:38 am   /  Reply

      I’ve learned more and more how to be grateful — and to even mine my regrets for reasons to say “Thank you.”
      You are a wise woman, Jeanne, and a good mom.

  13. January 16, 2012, 9:46 am   /  Reply

    Love the quote…so very true!

    • Beth Vogt
      January 16, 2012, 10:38 am   /  Reply

      ๐Ÿ™‚ Glad to know you were encouraged, TC.

  14. January 16, 2012, 10:33 am   /  Reply

    In the last few years, I haven’t had the time to devote to friendships the way I’ve wanted to (because of working full time and doing my master’s). Some of my friends were upset; some understood. I could very easily keep bemoaning all of the ways I failed my friends…or I can decide to do better now that I’m done with my degree. I think I’ll choose the latter. ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Beth Vogt
      January 16, 2012, 10:40 am   /  Reply

      Well done, Lindsay.
      And believe me, I understand how choices sometimes mean saying “I can’t” to friends. It doesn’t mean we don’t value our friends — we do. But certain goals mean we have to say “no” to things — to people we value. At least for a season.

  15. January 16, 2012, 12:32 pm   /  Reply

    So true. Looking back too much can induce paralysis!


    • Beth Vogt
      January 16, 2012, 12:56 pm   /  Reply

      Analysis paralysis goes both ways … forward and backward.

  16. Patti Mallett
    January 16, 2012, 1:16 pm   /  Reply

    I love that quote, too, Beth, and it was what I needed to read. Frequently that something from the past that we need to stop looking at (and obsessing over) is from only days or weeks (or hours) earlier. And that is exactly what I’m going to do!

    Thanks!! (I’m looking forward to tonight!)

    • Beth Vogt
      January 16, 2012, 1:26 pm   /  Reply

      See you tonight at the chat, Patti!
      You’ll get a sneak at the intro to my novel!

      • Patti Mallett
        January 17, 2012, 8:23 am   /  Reply

        Can’t wait to see your name in print and read that story (which actually began to grab me in the “unedited version” – though I like the new stuff better)! : >

        • Beth Vogt
          January 17, 2012, 8:30 am   /  Reply

          I like the new stuff better too.

  17. January 16, 2012, 1:26 pm   /  Reply

    Oh yes, letting go of the past is hard to do. I used to dwell on the past and regrets so often, that it became my identity.

    BUT- having a son changed all that. I didn’t want to be that bitter person I grew up with. All those regrets I heard about over and over as a child. I wanted something better for my son!

    So, I let go and began to form another identity: Christian, wife, mom, artist, writer, teacher, friend…etc. I thank the Lord He showed me all this through my son.

    God is good! Thanks for the post and for reminding me to look forward..learn from the past but press on toward the prize!

    • Beth Vogt
      January 16, 2012, 1:47 pm   /  Reply

      I loved the hope in this comment, Ruth!
      Thanks so much for being part of the conversation!

  18. January 16, 2012, 2:04 pm   /  Reply

    Oh wow, why did this never click in my brain until it was compared to a book?! ๐Ÿ™‚ What powerful words! Thanks for sharing, Beth!

    • Beth Vogt
      January 16, 2012, 2:16 pm   /  Reply

      We writers … we’re all about books.

  19. January 16, 2012, 3:27 pm   /  Reply

    Great reminder. I think I struggle with this in a literal sense. I am always going back and re-reading too much before I settle in to write. I like to reinsert myself in the moment. Such a time waster. And for life, I think it’s hard not to look back at those things that shaped you. There are always reminders of how you got to where you are now. I am all for living in the moment, and for what God has for the future. Need to keep this verse in mind when nostalgia tugs me back.

    Thanks for the perspective, Beth!

    • Beth Vogt
      January 16, 2012, 8:01 pm   /  Reply

      Ah, great application, Amy. I too am a great one for going back and re-reading “just one more time” when I should be writing forward.

  20. January 16, 2012, 6:18 pm   /  Reply

    Love that quote, so true. And I think that the first 50 chapters must have been very short!

    • Beth Vogt
      January 16, 2012, 8:00 pm   /  Reply

      You are so right, Shelly. Fifty chapters?! Did anyone notice the book’s author? Dan Brown.

  21. January 16, 2012, 6:50 pm   /  Reply

    I was gone today but am pleased with your comments, the responses, and record number of comments. Great!

    • Beth Vogt
      January 16, 2012, 8:00 pm   /  Reply

      Thank you for dropping by later today, Dee. Missed you!

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