In Starting Over, Dave Ferguson and John Ferguson examine the topic of regret and how we can overcome and learn from our past regrets. The authors first introduce readers to what they define as the “Sorry Cycle” which is where one falls into continuous despair and hopelessness due to their past action, inaction, and reaction to life’s events. Most of us can easily recount a handful of experiences that we wish had not happened or that we could go back and change. However, the authors assert that if we incessantly dwell on these regrets, we become entrenched by our fear and remorse. To make this point, the book is packed with many examples of individuals who have wasted many years drowning in the guilt and shame of their past choices. In order to break away from this cycle, the book outlines three steps which are to recognize, release, and redeem. In the first step, one is to recognize regret for what it is and accept what has transpired as being part of one’s life experiences. In the second step, one is to release those regrets through forgiving those who dispensed the hurt or seeking forgiveness from those who received the hurt. The last step is to redeem those regrets by acting in a new way that would prevent oneself from falling into similar regrets in the future. The chapters detail different types of regret and provide concrete steps on how to follow through with these three steps.
However, one concern that I have is that the authors focused on providing practical solutions without addressing the ultimate source of our entrenched feelings of regret which is our selfishness and sinful nature. Not all regrets are products of sin but those that we hold most tightly are often tied to our sinful hearts. The authors do mention repentance and forgiveness for all parties involved and emphasize that one needs to seek God. However, it seemed that Christ is more of a backdrop throughout the book and seen as one of the tools to help foster positive change. Conversely, I argue that Christ should be central to both freeing us from our past guilt and transforming it for His glory. We can take many practical steps to put ourselves in a better position to succeed and avoid feelings of guilt and shame. But the most critical issue is that we need to humble ourselves and give our lives to Christ who not only provides salvation but also empowers us to live for Him. Regrets do not merely show us that we live in a fallen world and that we need to do better. Rather, regrets remind us of our utter dependence on Christ and the grace that He gives us to live transformed lives.
I would recommend this book to those who are struggling in their past regrets. The authors point out correctly that regrets should not keep us paralyzed in fear and inaction. Furthermore, regret in itself is not to be frowned upon but can be opportunities to change how we live. Moreover, the book offers many helpful recommendations on how to move on and not repeat those regrets. More importantly, I urge readers to cling to Christ as the One who can transform our sinful hearts to repent and live for His glory alone. Christ is not only the starting point to living redeemed lives but is the overarching source of power, grace, and mercy to sustain us as we commit each day to Him.
In compliance with Federal Trade Commission guidelines, I received a review copy from The Crown Publishing Group in exchange for a book review.