How do you overcome the wasted time and regret that comes with depression? God is in the process of healing me, but I look back and see the damage that depression has done: my mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual health; friendships and relationships, my family, my academic career. People say stuff like it’s not wasted time because God is growing something deeper in you, but the fact is a lot of time HAS been wasted. Nothing will ever bring back those years. How do you grapple with that?
I’ve struggled with depression since forever, so I’m right there with you. I know what it’s like to think of those “fogged out” patches of life and mourn over why we couldn’t have just done better.
But please, dear friend: you really can’t beat yourself up about this.
Let’s think through what you’re asking. There are always some questions that will lead to a “Gotcha.”
- Do you ever think you could’ve tried harder?
- Have you ever been happier than now?
- Do you feel like no one understands?
- Is there more you could be doing?
I hope you see what I’m doing. The answer to all these is, “Of course bro.” If I ask, “Do you feel like you have regrets over wasted time?” — then nine out of ten people will scream YES and overthink and start wallowing in self-pity. These questions will almost never have satisfactory answers.
This mind-bomb already condemns you before asking.
It’s a technique used by New Age, Scientology, pop psychologists, and the preacher who doesn’t know better. It sets up an angst in your soul so you have to buy-the-book or go-to-the-conference or jump-through-these-hoops.
No more of these questions, all right? We’re done with that.
The thing is: You can’t really make up for lost time. If you try to compensate for what’s behind you, you won’t be able to look ahead. It’s like starting a race from negative two laps. This is a losing game, and the only way to win is to admit loss and start over.
When I first learned how to drive, I had a bad habit of looking in the rearview mirror all the time. My dad would tell me: Don’t worry about the car behind you. That’s their job. You look straight ahead.
Sounds like something Jesus said: Don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself.
I’m not telling you to never look in the rearview. I’m saying: We can’t live our lives looking both forward and backward at the same time.
It’s okay to feel regret, but this can’t be the determining axis on your story. There is a time to mourn, but there’s also a time to stand again.
You know this already, yet the devil’s lie in this whole thing is that you can somehow “repay” the hurt you’ve done. But the truth of Jesus is that he left Heaven to die and rise for the very regrets that you’re facing.
As much as you might not feel this now, God has already preempted your every failure and disobedience and misstep with grace upon grace upon grace. This means that even the “lost time” is in God’s hands, and it’s somehow being transformed into a good that we cannot comprehend. But that’s all the more reason we move forward and pursue Christ, not less. That’s even more reason to get the help you need, to seek forgiveness, repair relationships, rebuild community, and gain trust again.
None of this will be easy, but it won’t be any easier if you keep looking over your shoulder.
Today, simply declare bankruptcy on your old life. Begin again with Christ.
Right now, God has already gone ahead of you with all grace and is ready to accomplish amazing things through you. He offers Himself, which is already enough. Hold onto His grace and cast off anything else that impedes. We don’t get many second chances in the world, but we always have a second chance with Christ.
“Relying on God has to begin all over again every day as if nothing had yet been done.”
— C.S. Lewis