Yesterday, I sat down on my flight from Portland to Salt Lake City next to a young guy, probably early twenties. I hoped he would be eager for conversation, but to my dismay he put his bag under his seat, pulled out his mp3 player, and put on his headphones. Noooo… I thought, so disappointed to see a two-hour flight go to waste.
But as we took off, he had to turn off his electronics (flight attendants, you’re wonderful). I was unsure of whether it would be worth it to try and begin a conversation at this point. But a certain phrase that’s been surrounding me for months now popped back into my head: “No regrets.”
As many of you know, I am heading to TeenPact National Convention today. At NC, I’ll be running for TP Senator against many other fabulous candidates. The slogan of my campaign, which is my life motto and the message I hope to share, is “No regrets.” You may have heard this phrase so many times that it doesn’t mean much to you anymore, or it may be brand new. Either way, I hope you’ll be as challenged as I am by what it implies.
For me, “no regrets” is based on a few principles that have become more and more significant to me. First, it recognizes what is truly important. Eternally, what will we be regretting, and what will we be rejoicing in? If we think about things the way they really are, we’ll want to stop living such material, self-centered lives because we know that true, everlasting rewards come from a Jesus-focused life. Secondly, when I think of “no regrets,” I am reminded of the brevity of this life. The eternity I mentioned above could begin at any moment, and I don’t want to be caught up in a life I look back on with shame, whether it is something wrong or simply something fruitless. We all know that we only have a limited time here on earth; why make this our home?
Last, living with “no regrets” in the forefront of my mind has changed me so much because it changes every aspect of life, starting now. It can’t be put off without accruing even more regrets. “No regrets” is a means of saying, “just do it” to myself. And though I am often fearful and selfish, it’s beginning to make a real difference. Hopefully, it’s even changing lives, like this man on the plane.
“Where are you headed?” I asked, hoping to get more than a one-word answer. Wish granted. With his reply, our conversation commenced, and the headphones were forgotten for the duration of the flight. At first, we just talked about life, what we were up to, his college experience, his life goals, etc. He was a very intelligent, educated young man. At one point in the conversation, he mentioned that his brother had just gotten a girlfriend pregnant, and that he disapproved of their decision to keep and raise the baby. I mentioned that adoption may have been a better option, but that was obviously not what he had in mind. The conversation lulled; I didn’t want to start a debate. But then again… maybe I did. No regrets, I thought, and began to dig further.
We had a very interesting, engaging, honest, friendly, and open discussion. He supported a woman’s right to choose, and I explained my position as well. So many times, I felt like the answer was slipping out of my mind, and I just prayed. So many times, God gave me words I had forgotten, things I had never thought of. And while the man didn’t change his mind there and then, I pray he saw the inconsistencies we discussed. But it wasn’t over yet.
In this discussion, we got into physician assisted suicide and the death penalty (he believes that we should be able to kill unborn children and old people, but we should not be able to kill convicted murderers). Within that topic, he mentioned that he really believes that we’re all just animals anyway. I thought I’d just let that go for now. But hey, the conversation lulled again. No regrets, I thought. And so I asked for more.
I kept a straight face when he told me he thought the fossil record was the most compelling evidence for Evolution. I didn’t mention that I did an entire speech on just that, and I kept myself from quoting Darwin as well. Thank you God for giving me wisdom in what to say and what not to say. We had a good talk on that topic, left many things unanswerable, and somehow transitioned into faith.
It was like an apologetics round, almost. But harder. So many times I wanted to just give a nod and let the conversation end because I was afraid of not knowing the answer. But so many times, I remembered, no regrets. So we talked about God’s love and justice, why Jesus had to die, and what Heaven will be like. I felt so unprepared over and over, but found myself still talking and explaining. Someone must have been praying for me.
From the justice of God, we ended up on the subject of gay marriage, and what God says about it. Only after I had explained what I believed and what the Bible says did he mention that he was gay. I thanked God we were in the descent, but still wanted to say something. I told him the truth, and I told him that while I didn’t support gay marriage, I believe that everyone really does need love.
The conversation ended on friendly terms; we shook hands, learned each others’ names, and I thanked him for his discussion. It had been hard, but so worth it. I couldn’t imagine the regret I might have had if I had never said “hello.”
I walked off the plane. An older couple in front of me turned around and stopped me. The woman told me she and her husband had been sitting in front of me on the flight, and had been able to hear the whole conversation. She was a volunteer at her local pregnancy resource center, and a strong Christian, and she and her husband had been praying for me the entire time as they listened. I cannot tell you how blessed I was, and how grateful that God placed them there at the right time, just when I needed prayer so much.
Friends, this is kind of an unusual story, but I wish it wasn’t. I’m not any different; I’m not more talented or extraordinary than any of you. Just read His Word and get to know Jesus, and your life will never be the same. When you love Jesus more than anything else, and when your earthly life is a preparation for your eternal life, you will be filled to overflowing with opportunities. In fact, you already are being given those opportunities. It’s up to you to take them.
Live with no regrets because, well, you’ll never regret it.
PS – pray for the man I met on the plane, Craig. And please pray for TeenPact National Convention which begins today! Pray that God will change many, many lives permanently.