"Whatsoever a man sows," the Bible says, "this he will also reap." Plant the seeds of discipline in the garden of life and the weeds of regret will be sparse. However, neglect self-restraint and life's garden will become overgrown with remorse.
The media has been giving quite a bit of attention to a couple of individuals who had their lives totally disrupted due to conscious choices they made. While they have different backgrounds and professions, the pair shares the reality of regret.
John Edwards, successful trial lawyer, former U.S. senator and Democratic vice presidential nominee, has been in the news of late because he is on trial having been accused of using campaign funds in an attempt to cover-up an extra-marital affair that also resulted in a child.
Bobby Petrino, the now former coach of the Arkansas Razorbacks football team, found his way into the news when a motorcycle accident led to the uncovering of an extra-marital affair he was having with a much younger university employee.
Edwards and Petrino have much in common. Both were successful, popular and well-compensated. They seemingly were living the dream and had it all. However, when it came to the most important relationship in their lives -- their marriages -- they were woefully neglectful and undisciplined.
I don't know the particulars that led to Edwards and Petrino choosing to be unfaithful to their wives. In the end, the specifics really do not matter. What I am fairly sure of is that when both men review the fruit of their choices, they sting from the pain of regret.
Edwards issued a statement in 2008 when his affair had been revealed. In part, the apology read: "In 2006, I made a serious error in judgment and conducted myself in a way that was disloyal to my family and to my core beliefs. I recognized my mistake and I told my wife that I had a liaison with another woman, and I asked for her forgiveness..."
Edwards statement also included the following, "I was and am ashamed of my conduct and choices and I had hoped that it would never become public. ... I started to believe that I was special and became increasingly egocentric and narcissistic. If you want to beat me up -- feel free. You cannot beat me up more than I have already beaten up myself. I have been stripped bare. ..."
Petrino issued a statement when news of his indiscretions had become public. It read in part: "I'm sorry. These two words seem very inadequate. But that is my heart. All I have been able to think about is the number of people I've let down by making selfish decisions. ... I have no one to blame but myself."
Both men's statements are heavy with the pain of regret.
The lack of discipline in respect to their marriages prevented Edwards and Petrino from saying no to inappropriate and destructive choices. As a result, they brought embarrassment upon themselves and their families and cost themselves millions of dollars. In Edwards' case, he even faces the possibility of prison.
I am sure the women who became involved with Edwards and Petrino regret their lack of discipline and decision to become involved with married men. They, too, lost much when their indiscretions became public knowledge. To be sure, Edwards and Petrino are only the latest illustrations of individuals who, perhaps without fully realizing it at the time, ultimately chose the pain of regret rather than the pain of discipline. Many people -- the famous and the obscure -- have made the exact same choice only to experience the nagging pain of regret.
We must all suffer from one of two pains: the pain of discipline or the pain of regret. "The difference," observed entrepreneur and motivational speaker Jim Rohn, "is discipline weighs ounces while regret weighs tons."
The universal and unyielding truth articulated in the Bible is, "Whatsoever a man sows, this he will also reap." Sow the pain of discipline, my friends, and you will not regret it. If Edwards and Petrino had it do over again, I am quite sure they would.
Kelly Boggs is a weekly columnist for Baptist Press, director of the Louisiana Baptist Convention's office of public affairs, and editor of the Baptist Message www.baptistmessage.com, newsjournal of the Louisiana Baptist Convention. Get Baptist Press headlines and breaking news on Twitter (@BaptistPress), Facebook (Facebook.com/BaptistPress) and in your email (baptistpress.com/SubscribeBP.asp).
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