August 15, 2009. Paul McCartney played for tens of thousands at Piedmont Park in Atlanta. A blistering set of 34 songs out under the summer stars, from “Drive My Car” to “The End”. A night no one would soon forget.
I wasn’t there.
There have been a good number of concerts I’ve missed out on in the past decade that haunt me. Maybe none more than that one.
I could have gone. I could have jumped in the car, spread my Wings and spontaneously headed to Atlanta to see Paul McCartney at Piedmont Park. I’m not even sure why I decided to stay home that day.
I’ve regretted ever since then that I didn’t.
Last night mostly made up for it.
October 15, 2014. Paul McCartney played for a jam-packed Philips Arena. Nearly 40 songs across 3 hours spanning 5 decades of music. A moment I thought would never come.
My fiancé and I danced in the upper level as Paul McCartney serenaded us with “Hey Jude”. It felt like we were the only two people in the room. The world stood still for the length of a perfect pop song.
Of course I was afraid this moment might not happen either.
I bought my fiancé tickets to the show as a birthday present.
Her birthday is in June.
That’s when McCartney was scheduled to perform in Atlanta. A few days before the show he fell ill and had to reschedule the date.
With a legacy artist like Paul McCartney, you never know when your last chance to see him will be. When the show was postponed this summer I became afraid the moment would be robbed from me again.
Was my regret from missing out on Piedmont Park about to be multiplied? Were the fates trying to teach me a cruel lesson?
Thankfully, the Beatle squashed his illness and made it to Atlanta. He more than made up for his missed appearance with a scorching setlist that included all the favorites we expected and hoped to hear. “Live and Let Die”, “Yesterday”, even a mesmerizing rendition of George Harrison’s “Something” played on a ukulele Harrison gave to McCartney.
Yet, as incredible as the concert was, there is still a small part of me holding on to the regret of Piedmont Park.
Even though I did finally get to Paul McCartney in concert, I could have seen him in possibly an even greater environment. I will always have to live with the regret of missing out on this once-in-a-lifetime concert
No word plays a more powerful negative role in our life like the word regret.
Regret reminds us of the folly of our former selves. Regret hovers in the dark corner of our mind like the ghosts from A Christmas Carol, forcefully pointing our eyes toward a memory of what might have been.
Whether it’s a missed concert, a broken relationship, or a passed-up job opportunity, the older we get the more our lives become haunted by the ghosts of our past.
It’s easy to feel suffocated by weight of regret. The memories of our momentary lapses of judgment follow us around. They drive us to drown out the pain, numbing it with alcohol or food or pornography or some other substitute.
One bad decision leads to another. The pain from our mistakes makes us miss out on new opportunities which come our way.
Regrets are inevitable. We’re imperfect people. We make mistakes. And we tend to let our minds linger on them.
But what if regrets weren’t meant to haunt us? What if they were meant to inspire us?
For the kind of sorrow God wants us to experience leads us away from sin and results in salvation. There’s no regret for that kind of sorrow. But worldly sorrow, which lacks repentance, results in spiritual death. (2 Corinthians 7:10)
Did you catch that first sentence?
God wants us to experience sorrow.
He not only allows it – He encourages it.
Regrets are supposed to be painful. They’re like the alarms we set on our iPhones – painful but with a purpose. They shake us from sleepwalking through the day, awaking us into a life of determined purpose.
When God allow us to reflect on regret, He does not intend for us to feel defeat. He wants to inspire us to chase the greater victory.
I don’t want to have another Piedmont Park moment in my life – although I’m sure I will. It’s impossible to avoid the long and winding road of regret.
The choice is then up to us how we will travel the road. Will we retreat in fear? Will we stand still confused over how to move?
Or will we surge ahead with purpose, away from sin and toward salvation?
After all, as Sir Paul sang last night:
Life is very short, and there’s no time
For fussing and fighting, my friend…
Do you have a “Piedmont Park” moment in your life? Are there regrets that haunt you today? How can your regret lead you down the path of salvation?