Sunday, November 12, 2023

Handling Those Writing Regrets

by Martin Wiles @LinesFromGod

It was gone. Now, I had to learn a lesson about handling regrets. 

I thought about my now-gone treasure early one morning when a co-worker asked, “Have you ever regretted getting rid of something?”

I love antiques and have since I was young. No one else in my immediate family seemed to appreciate them, but I fell in love with them somewhere along the way. So, as my extended family members aged and wanted to pass along some of their belongings, I snatched them up. 

Among my treasures was a pocket watch that belonged to my maternal grandfather, Pappy. He knew I loved the watch. I had listened to his story about how he came to own it. Someone he knew had it. Pappy wanted it, so he offered the person a .22 rifle. The man accepted, and from then on, Pappy proudly hung the watch from every pair of Dickie pants he wore daily. 

I didn’t know it until after he died, but he had told my grandmother to give it to me. I was ecstatic. I only regretted that the gold chain didn’t accompany it. Mom bought me a small watch display case, and I proudly displayed my treasure. 

Loving antiques as I did, I suggested to my wife that we open an antique store in our home, which she gladly agreed to. Of course, we had many things we marked NFS, including Pappy’s watch. But one customer wanted it, and in a moment of stupidity, I sold it. I’ve regretted it ever since—just one of the things I regret. 

“But forget all that—it is nothing compared to what I am going to do” (Isaiah 43:18 NLT).

I suppose many Israelites regretted their wayward ways that had led God’s people into two captivities: Egypt first and later Babylon. They spent four hundred years in the first place and seventy in the second. But God told them to forget about all that misery. He had something better for them in the future. 

All of us have regrets. Bad choices we made. Like selling a family heirloom. Relationships we ended . . . or entered. Places we left behind. Things we sold. Like the many items my mom sees at thrift or antique stores that she once had but sold at a yard sale. Sins we’ve committed. People we have hurt. The times we didn’t obey what God wanted. Opportunities we let slip by. 

And we writers have our share of regrets, too. We regret not entering that contest; sending that article, devotion, or MS to a publisher; keeping in contact with the friends we made at the last writing conference; praying for that writer who is struggling with quitting or is experiencing a family or personal crisis; joining that critique group. Shall I ramble on? You get the picture. 

Reflecting on such times is healthy. We can think of the lessons we’ve learned. But we shouldn’t live in that regret. Doing so will keep us from moving forward in relationships—with family, friends, and even God. We’ll find ourselves mentally and emotionally trapped. We might also face that blank page, feel writer’s block, and throw up our hands and throw in the towel. What’s the use? No one will publish it (whatever it is) anyway.

I made a bad decision to sell a treasured family heirloom. I learned from it. Now, I keep or pass my treasures to other family members, but I don’t part with them unless circumstances give me no choice. 

Regrets teach us essential life lessons, and writing regrets can pummel us forward into new territory God wants us to explore. 

What lessons have you learned from your writing regrets?


Martin Wiles is the founder of Love Lines from God (WWW.LOVELINESFROMGOD.COM) and serves as Managing Editor for Christian Devotions and Directing Editor for VineWords. He has authored six books and has been published in numerous publications. His most recent book, DON'T JUST LIVE...REALLY LIVE, debuted in October of 2021. He is a freelance editor, English teacher, author, and pastor.


  1. I can relate, Martin, to wishing I had kept some things that are now gone. In the writing world I also look back and God has to gently "kick" me back in place as a reminder that He can redeem those regrets and still use what He has taught me for His glory.

  2. I threw in the towel; God threw it back and said, "Here, wipe your face; you're almost there."