All of us have said things, done things that we regret. John Adams once said, “Great is the guilt of an unnecessary war.” Regret often lingers at the base of our emotions, that forbidden passage into the brokenness of past relationships, unnecessary words, and actions we wish we could take back.
But what do we do with regret? The lingering feelings of regret can be catastrophic to our heart. How do we harness the emotional darkness, the guilt, the specters of what should have been? Lately, I have meditated on the words of Christ to the church of Laodicea. I can so identify with their sin of being “neither cold nor hot,” thinking I “have need of nothing,” and carrying the nagging toxic guilt of past sin—regret. Jesus says something interesting,
I counsel you to buy from Me gold refined in the fire, that you may be rich; and white garments, that you may be clothed, that the shame of your nakedness may not be revealed; and anoint your eyes with eye salve, that you may see. As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten. Therefore be zealous and repent. 
Be zealous and repent? The two words in the same sentence seem like a contradiction. The order doesn’t line up. Zeal first, repentance next. I mean shouldn’t it be the other way around?
I have come to believe that zeal is actually the key to repentance, and repentance leads us out of regret. Jesus knows that zeal is the heart passion that makes us repent. Zeal for God; zeal for love; zeal for forgiveness can drive us to do what we hate—repent of our sin. Zeal leads us to repentance and repentance is the liquid gold refined in the fire.
Repentance is the liquid gold of God that heals our broken spirit. The Japanese used to mend broken vessels with gold for they believed that a broken vessel mended was of more value than one that had not been broken. Repentance mends our broken hearts and leads us out of the darkness of regret. Repentance has deep value in the healing of our hearts.
Refreshing always follows true repentance. To be restored into a right relationship with God and people is the source to new life. The Bible speaks of the restoration process,
Repent therefore, and turn back, that your sins may be blotted out, that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord 
Repentance from the heart ushers in refreshing! This is the refreshing from the presence of the Lord. The toxicity of regret can be replaced with the liquid gold of refreshing when we repent. Repentance brings the refreshing of being back in the presence of the Lord. Repentance releases us from regret into a heart healing.
If those lingering images of regret haunt you at night, might I encourage you to repent, let go, shake it off by going to that person you have hurt, humble yourself and say you’re sorry. Take responsibility for what you’ve done. And times of refreshing will follow. Yes, they will come. It works.
On the Road with you,
 The New King James Version. 1982 (Re 3:18–19). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.
 The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. 2001 (Ac 3:19–20). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.