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And UPGRADE'S Founder

   Dawn Wilson


Entries in Regrets (4)


How to Kick Regret to the Curb

Counselor and Bible teacher Debbie W. Wilson encourages women to cultivate vital faith, and in this Spiritual Growth UPGRADE, she advises us to deal with mistakes biblically and "kick regret to the curb"!

Debbie asks: "Why would Eve trade paradise for the knowledge of good and evil? Why do I swap peace for worry?"

I (Dawn) can't count the times I've allowed worry to control my life. When I make a simple mistake, I let the enemy play with my emotions until I'm a total mess. But God's Word has solutions for that problem, and Debbie shares a powerful truth.

Debbie continues . . .

Eve and I share a common problem. We've both allowed the desire for knowledge to rob us.

Choosing fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil made her miserable. My desire for the knowledge of good, better, and best has stolen my joy.

Maybe you can relate.

I bought a neutral-colored jacket I thought would go with everything. But after I brought it home, I couldn’t find anything I wanted to wear with it. The time to return it ran out before I realized my purchase wasn’t as smart as I’d thought.

“If only I’d thought it through better,” I moaned.

That’s when the Eve analogy struck me. The serpent told Eve that if she ate from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, she would be like God (Gen. 3:5).

  • Was my “If only I’d known,” an echo of Eve’s obsession with the tree of knowledge?

  • Was I trying to be like God—all-knowing?

  • Is my desire "to know" a way to replace my need for God?

Have you let decisions you’d like to do over with the knowledge you’ve gained from time and experience steal your peace?

Even though God’s Word and Spirit guide us, we still learn as we go.

Even young Jesus “grew in knowledge.”

Where did I get the idea errors are catastrophes? I've felt worse over a mistake than over sin.

I knew God forgives sin, but I felt I had to pay for my mistakes.

Here’s some grace and help to avoid or handle REGRET.

1. BEFORE a decision, ask God to lead you.

That may mean asking Him to help us want His will. God’s will is always perfect. Ours is shortsighted and inconsistent.

I practiced this during a visit to Chicago. A pair of boots captivated me. They were a timeless style, fit like a glove, and gorgeous. It was snowing outside (I needed them). I peeked at the price. Gasp!

The store held my size to give me time to decide. A battle between why they made sense and why I was CRAZY to think about them ping-ponged through my mind. The next morning I asked God to guide me.

I opened my Bible and read out loud. “Spare no expense!” (Is. 54:2 NLT).

Ginny and I laughed out loud. “Mom, you turned there on purpose.”

I hadn't, but it assured me God would lead me.

When I tried the boots again, they rubbed my heels. I walked away without feeling deprived.

2. BEFORE and AFTER a decision, exercise thanksgiving.

God causes “all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose” (Rom. 8:28 NASB).

Even when a decision doesn’t turn out like we’d hoped, we thank Him that He will use it for our good.

Maybe my jacket is meant for someone else or for another season. Perhaps it’s a reminder God’s bigger than my shortcomings.


God created us to need Him.  

Joy comes from experiencing Jesus, not from avoiding mistakes.

There were two trees in the center of Eden. Satan diverted Eve away from the tree of life to the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.

Jesus is “the life” (John 14:6). Let's not let a decision draw us away from Him.

Before we left Chicago a pair of ankle boots grabbed my attention. Cute, comfortable, and affordable!

What pending or past decision wants to steal your peace?

Debbie W. Wilson, drawing from her personal walk with Christ, twenty-four years as a Christian counselor, and decades as a Bible teacher, speaks and writes to help others discover relevant faith. She is the author of Little Women, Big God and Give Yourself a Break. She and her husband, Larry, founded Lighthouse Ministries in 1991. Share her journey to refreshing faith at

Graphic adapted, courtesy of kconnors-Morguefile.


How To Run without Looking Back

In this Spiritual Life UPGRADE, I want to encourage readers to run the race of life wisely, and especially without looking back!

How are you running the race God gave you?"

Pause. Think. Read on.

I hated field hockey. As a junior high student, I didn't like anything about it—the endurance running (with my asthma), the craziness of scrambling after the ball, and especially all those swinging sticks!

But I remember one game in particular where I really blew it and suffered embarrassment for days.

My stance was fine, my Indian dribble fair, and my slap shots sufficient. But my coach repeatedly yelled, "Stay focused, Dawn. Quit looking back."

Pretty good advice considering I froze and looked back every time I heard the pounding of footsteps behind me. Whenever I had the ball "corraled" and girls rushed toward me from behind, I tended to spin around and get out of the way to avoid being run over!

My athletic sons would shake their heads in embarrassment if they could time-warp to see me back then.

One day, when the stampede of girls behind me once again scared me to death, I spun around, lost my footing and fell awkwardly, spraining an ankle and hitting my head. Sprawled on the grass, little birdies spun around my head, tweeting. (Back then, those were life's original "Tweets.")

Not exactly a star player.

I never really liked those wayward hockey sticks either. Or bruised knees (when players somehow missed my shin guards).

Like I said, I hated field hockey.

But that "looking back" thing? I still do it. In life.

I look back when I live with regrets, compare myself to others, or lose focus.

Life, unlike a field hockey game, isn't optional. And I don't want to stay stuck in fear. I want to grow in faith.

The Lord wants me to learn, grow and run my race well "to get the prize" (1 Corinthians 9:24).

So ... what am I DOING about that "looking back" problem?

1. I'm dealing with regrets biblically.

I know I can't go back for life re-dos. Looking back is fruitless except as I take my past to the Father and allow Him to redeem it (Isaiah 44:22).

When we confess our failings and leave them with the Lord, His forgiveness, mercy and grace allow us to move forward with God-confidence and fresh obedience (1 John 1:9).

The Lord will keep refining us as we run our race (Psalm 66:10; 1 Peter 1:7). It's His work, and He will perfect us (Psalm 138:8; Philippians 1:6).

2. I'm learning to compare myself only with Jesus.

My sidetracking temptation in playing field hockey was to idolize the best players. When I did that, there was never any real progress—at least not as far as I was concerned.

The truth is, my coach didn't want me to become Beth, Angie or Mary. He wanted me to be the best Dawn possible.

That's what the Lord wants for all of us too.

It's so easy in Christian circles to compare ourselves with women who have it "all together for Jesus," forgetting they have their own struggles—their own weaknesses, sometimes hidden beyond our view.

The Lord simply wants us to live in the ways and for the purposes He created us, all "to the praise of His glory."

Earthly comparisons are foolish (2 Corinthians 10:12). But finding out God's purposes and imitating Jesus in pursuing those purposes—that's wisdom.

3. I'm learning to focus on the Father's will.

  • The goal isn't to look back and regret what might have been.
  • The goal isn't to look around and constantly strive to be better than others.
  • The goal is to finish the race God sets before us in ways that please Him.

We will desire to be obedient. Holy. Wise. Purpose-driven. Loving and compassionate. Serving in kindness. And we will allow the Holy Spirit to produce fruit in us as we follow hard after the Lord.

The goal is to imitate Jesus and align ourselves with what our Father God is doing (John 5:19).

We accomplish this goal in the power of the Holy Spirit—not in our own strength, and certainly not with our own agenda (Zechariah 4:6; I Corinthians 2:4).

As Dr. Charles Stanley wrote, "Spiritual power is the divine energy God is willing to express in and through us and the divine authority needed to carry out the work God has called us to do... God will not place you into a position or ask you to accomplish a task for which He will not fully equip and enable you." *

So we are empowered, equipped and enabled; but our FOCUS is crucial.

The look is important:

  • Looking back, we'll stumble around in painful regret.
  • Looking around, we'll be distracted and hindered.
  • But looking forward and up toward the Lord, there is sure hope for progress in Christ.

Let's think more biblically, and run our race with a God-centered focus.

Running with wisdom, we're less likely to take a tumble!

Are you living with regrets? Comparing yourself to others? Unfocused or confused about the goal? Ask the Lord to help you clear direction from His Word and empower you to finish well.

Dawn Wilson, founder and President of Heart Choices Today, is a speaker and author, and the creator of three blogs: Heart Choices Today, LOL with God (with Pam Farrel), and Upgrade with Dawn. She is a contracted researcher/reviewer for Revive Our Hearts and a writer at She and her husband Bob live in Southern California and have two grown, married sons, three granddaughters and a rascally maltipoo, Roscoe.

Field Hockey graphic courtesty of keithjj, Pixabay

* Charles Stanley quote, here.


I Choose Grace

Those who know Mary James will testify to the sweetness of her spirit and the power in her songs. I asked Mary to share an UPGRADE Uplift to encourage our hearts.

“If you believe change is not possible when looking at a situation,” Mary says, “you are deciding what God’s grace is capable of achieving.”

So many times, I (Dawn) have allowed the enemy to weigh me down with regrets. When I do that, I can’t move forward. But God does not leave us without hope.

Mary continues…..

The message of God’s grace through Christ is the most beautiful gift any of us can ever possess—especially for those who have made significant mistakes along the way.

Though we may have regrets, the weight of God’s forgiveness covers our choices with a love so big that the past loses it power over us. 

I recently heard a message that sadly left listeners without this hope. Its focus was on parenting. In a nutshell, the message said, “If you do not do as Scripture instructs, you will have regrets.” 

Ok, makes sense. We know that Scripture has been given to us for a reason and will spare us much heartache. But all of us have fallen short of its expectations.

So then what?  Oh, yes . . . a heart full of regret.

As a person who the enemy loves to torment with the past, I began to squirm in my seat.  Occasionally, I squeezed my husband’s leg in almost uncontainable frustration. 

The message continued and my spirit grew heavier and heavier, especially for the men in the auditorium who were being held to the highest level of accountability.  Yet I remained hopeful and kept waiting for it . . . and waiting . . . and waiting.  

But it never came. 

There was plenty of truth, but no grace. Not a shred.

As my husband and I sat there—two people who have made a thousand mistakes as parents—we were left to see ourselves as only one thing: failures.     

Years ago, I heard Bunnie Wilson share about the remorse she had in raising her children. Her regret was that she had not taught them to have a servant's heart. But—and there was a but—she pointed us all to a new day, a new beginning, a Christ-centered resolve. 

Bunnie said that now, every time she is with her children, she models servanthood for them. What she did not teach them when they were young, she taught them as adults.

And they were changed by her efforts. 

Every parent in the room who had missed the boat in some aspect of parenting left with that hope.  I have never forgotten her reminder of God’s ability to redeem our less than perfect choices.    

If you believe change is not possible when looking at a situation, you are deciding what God’s grace is capable of achieving.

God has given us history so that we that we can learn from it, but Paul also understood the danger of living in the past.

As he wrote in Philippians 3:12-14,

Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”

We can live in the bondage of regret, or we can let the power of God’s grace move us into a new day. Either way it requires effort.

Regret is like carrying around that proverbial baggage, where grace requires humility: placing any limitations, grudges or shame into the hands of God.

Whether we are at the podium or in the pews, rigidity in our thinking when it comes to God’s ability to change us or restore a relationship/situation, diffuses the work of the cross

Oddly, our regrets can be the very things that help us understand our need for Jesus.

We must accept consequences, but God has shown us time and time again that He can take a mess and turn it into a masterpiece.  

Which do you choose? The mess or the masterpiece? Regret or grace? 

 Mary James is a Christian Artist and Speaker who has embraced the charge found in 1 Peter 2:9, that we are, “Saved to Proclaim the excellence of Him who called us out of darkness into His marvelous light.” Through her music, testimony of grace, and transparent, biblically-centered messages, Mary is devoted seeing hearts and lives healed, strengthened and transformed by Christ. Since entering ministry in 2000, she has released five full-length CDs, shared the platform with leading Bible teachers such as Dr. David Jeremiah and Kay Arthur, and is a three-time Inspirational Country Music Female Vocalist of the Year Award winner. Visit Mary's Website.

Graphic in post adapted, Image courtesy of marin at


Overcoming Fear and Regrets

We all have fears—big and small. Priscilla Jensen’s amazing story (read it here) is a testimony to the grace of God and how she overcame her fear of death.

“Because I was pronounced dead and got a second chance in life,” Jensen said, “I often get the question, ‘How do I overcome fear of death?’”

Maybe you don’t fear death, but there’s an UPGRADE lesson here for all of us as Jensen continues…

Everyone has some type of fear—heights, spiders, failing, speaking—they’re a fact of life, an emotional response to pending danger. 

I had to ask, “Why do some Christians have such a strong fear of death when we know what our eternity holds once we have put our faith in Jesus?” I feared death even after I’ve already experienced death.

Death: no possibility to change anything ... the finality of it all, at least of what I knew and saw.

The fear of death can be explained as the realization of being powerless against the inevitable, while making choices that can exacerbate the inevitable.

Maybe that is why so many people are afraid of death: REGRETS!

Regrets of the unfinished… mistakes… unfulfilled dreams… of anything else. We will never be able to live life having always made the right choice. We will always have regrets. I had tons of regrets. They secretly ate at me.

What would it look like if we didn’t have any regrets?

Is that even the right question? Could we live life with absolutely no regrets? I believe that is the wrong focus. Regrets are essentially always going to be focused on one person… me!

There is a huge difference between regrets and disappointments. Regrets are focused on what we did or didn’t do. Disappointments could be described as a hopeful beginning with an ending that is less than desirable. Regrets focus on us and our decisions. Disappointments focus on the outcome.

Imagine if we flipped that question around. 

What would it look like if the choices we make were all done to bring glory to God? 

We will still have disappointments, but our regrets would be astronomically lower. Why? Because it is no longer about us. Our lives were never about us; we’re not created for our own purposes. This has huge ramifications in every area of our lives.

This paradigm shift completely changed how I view life. Since my life was never about me, then who instilled purpose into my being? God did that. He bestowed His breath of life into me. He formed me. I am fearfully and wonderfully made! Not created for me, I was created for God Himself. God created me for His glory.

As I went through the process of overcoming fear of death the first years after that dreadful night (believe me, it was a real fear), time and again God, through His Spirit, counseled me regarding the ultimate purpose of why He created me. I was created in His likeness and to bring glory to His Name.

God freed me from the continuous pressure to live up to my own impossible standards,  buried by my regrets. Suddenly, I had a rope thrown down so I could crawl out my self-created pit.

When my focus was no longer targeted on me, a whole new world opened up. I had one task: bring glory to God. I needed to love Him with all my heart, soul and mind. I caught myself being in constant communion with Him.

The fear of death was taken away, because ‘to die is to gain’ (Philippians 1:21). I’m blessed to get a second chance in life—spiritually and physically! My focus is no longer on my death; my focus is on my decisions right now.

Are your thoughts, actions, attitude, relationships and everything else bringing glory to God?

Priscilla Jensen is a motivational and inspirational speaker and writer who was pronounced dead and is now living a daily miracle. She was born and raised in the Netherlands with Asian ancestry, and received her graduate degree in Intercultural Studies from Biola University. After living another 12 years in Europe, she and her husband and teenage son now reside in California, teaching at San Diego Christian College and helping to plant Catalyst Church in downtown San Diego.