Zoe, at “A complicated Salvation” wrote this and initially I was going to leave a comment. But I feared it would get extensive.
(Side question: Does one leave a long comment, or is that rude? Is it better to write it out, clogging up one’s own blog, or should one remotely stay with the topic and just comment? I go back and forth. Today I fall on blog.)
Are there regrets for not leaving sooner?
The story goes of a famous lawyer who was arguing a case before the Supreme Court. A person observed, “You must be quite prepared. You tried the case and you argued the case before the appellate court. You surely know it better than your opponent.”
To which the lawyer replied, “Sir, after I tried the case, I completely forgot everything about it. Before I could argue the appeal, I had to re-learn the entire thing. Now, I will have to learn it all over again. It is as if I never heard of the case before.”
That is amazingly true. We completely forget our own cases.
There have been times, where I have to pick up a case again, after a few years, either for an appeal, or a new trial, or some other reason and become familiar with it all over. (I am in the process of doing so now; the experience is fresh in my mind.)
We forget. We forget the names of the people. We forget the dates. At times I will read my own questioning and think, “Where the devil was I headed with that?” Or I will see pages and pages of testimony and 100’s of documents all necessary to prove what I thought was an important point, and turned out to be trivial at best.
We asked for documents we didn’t need. We questioned people that did not provide any useful information. We asked questions that were a complete waste of time.
Yet, at that moment, I did not know it. Rabbit trails HAVE led to valuable information. Documents requested CAN become key. Or can eventually mold in my storage—unneeded, unused, and forgotten.
With amazing 20-20 hindsight, I can review a file and clearly see that I did not need to perform this action, or did not need to pursue that matter. If I could do it all over again, would I do the same actions? Of course not. Do I regret doing them? Equally not. I worked with the material and thoughts I had at the moment.
A common question lawyers are asked, after we lose, is, “If you had to do it all over again, would you have done anything differently?”
“Of COURSE I would have done something differently. I lost, you ignorant dolt. I could have worn a clown outfit and not do any worse!” (Most times we would have picked a differently jury!)
If I had to live my life over, would I have done anything differently? Obviously! We all would say that. Do we have regrets? Absolutely. Even when realizing that we worked with the information we had, a part of our humanity cannot help but feel that we should have known better. Should have done better. Should have listened, looked and learned more.
Perhaps, even now I am doing things that in 10 months will look back with 20-20 hindsight and think I should have done something differently. Even have regret.
Because we cannot help but impute our current knowledge on our past situation. “Shoulda seen it coming.” How often do we think that?
I was raised in an evangelical, conservative family. Even as I type that, a small part of me is thinking, “Yeah, but isn’t that an excuse? Didn’t you really know better?”
We do, as Zoe points out admirably, believe and say things that in retrospect are incredible. Unthinkable. Yet at the time it seemed so natural. We pitied our fellow humans who were going to be eternally tortured, without even a passing thought as to the grave injustice of such a thing. We defended a God that could kill babies and take virgin females because…well…because that was how we were raised.
Our parents said it. Our friends said it. And, because we were told that even God said it. Look, it is right here in our book of “God’s Quotations.” Women in leadership roles? Fine if you are a government deciding the fate of millions, or running a mutli-billion dollar corporation—but sorry! God’s book says no women. You ladies go and run the nursery. Every May or so we will read Proverbs 31 and place you on a pedestal. Just high enough so the pastor can look up your skirt. (Joke! Just kidding!)
We hated homosexuals, bombed clinics, voted on one issue, and avoided science as if it was the plague. We nodded when people preached that AIDS was sent to kill the sexually deviant, when told that blood of the heathen would go six feet deep for 100 miles, when informed that some people were just not chosen to go to heaven and that was too bad.
We truly thought that “X-Mas” was a form of persecution, equivalent to the rack. “Happy Holidays”? Might as well shove bamboo sticks under our nails.
We all have situations in which we look back and think, “What was I thinking?” Perhaps a bad girlfriend/boyfriend. Or a bad friendship. Or, for many deconverts, a life in a religion that is a barbaric boiling pot of prejudice and fear.
I certainly have regrets. I certainly wish I would have gotten out sooner. Would I have done anything differently? Sure—knowing what I know now. Would I have then? Obviously not—because I didn’t.
All I can do is go back and attempt to correct all the wrongs I performed, and hope for forgiveness. If nothing else, because of my ignorance.