The “What Ifs” and “If Onlys”

9:05pm. I had just left work (finally) and gotten into my car, when I decided to look on Facebook as my car engine warmed up.

I saw the usual links being shared, life updates, funny jokes, cat memes and videos, and other silly videos that typically grace our newsfeeds. You know the drill. What I didn’t expect to see, though I knew it was coming any day, was the announcement of Joey Feek‘s death. I at first felt relief for her. She finally got the healing she had prayed for and the ability to spend time with Jesus face to face. Not to mention, I just know she was greeted with a, “Well done, good and faithful servant!” I’ll admit I also felt a little jealousy as I read on. What a legacy she is leaving behind!

But then I was hit with memories of my mom’s battle with cancer.

Memories of how thin she was; of her labored breathing. Her lips dry and chapped as she slept with her mouth open. When she happened to be awake, her eyelids drooped as they were too heavy for her to hold up. I remember those nights as each time I got tucked in by my dad I would plead with God to heal her. Every single night I gave my innocent childlike prayer. Somehow I knew deep in my heart that He would.

But then she didn’t get better.

As I pondered these memories and Joey’s story, I became overwhelmed with grief… again. Tears filled my eyes as I started thinking what life would be like if my mom hadn’t died. The tears began to spill over as ideas came to mind of what would have happened if she were still here. What it would have been like to have a mom as a best friend. If she hadn’t died I might have had that. I wouldn’t have been damaged by unresolved grief, being ripped from everything I knew, and abuse from my first step-mom. I wouldn’t be haunted by severe low self-worth. (I joke around that I would probably have been married now with a couple of kids.)

Instead, loss and abuse are part of my story. Except, as tears covered my cheek bones (boo mascara), I was reminded of God’s faithfulness and His desire to redeem. I see His work in my life, using those painful years for His glory.

I’ve been in the “if only” and “what if” cycle before and it is not fun! There’s a point you can cross where it is almost impossible to turn back. My dad is the king of the “if only’s!” He regrets marrying my first step mom and always brings it up. The problem with this mindset is the damage that it does. It takes our focus off the big picture, off of the future, off of God’s bigger, better plan. Instead, we get caught up in our past, causing our eyes to be focused on the wrong target. We miss so much in life when we keep our head looking behind us.

I don’t want to dismiss what you have gone through though. I don’t know your story, but if there is any ounce of pain there, I don’t want what I am saying to be misunderstood. I think a lot of times we feel like we have to put on a mask and show the world that we are okay, usually hoping to convince ourselves as well. But instead, we end up damaging ourselves even more. That is not what I mean. If there is pain from your past, grieve it. Process it with a trusted mentor or counselor. It’s not healthy to be caught in our past, but it’s also not healthy to stuff our feelings away.

Is there any area of your life that feels like living hell? Is there anything in your life that you regret (For me: YES)? Is there any mistake you wish you hadn’t made (Again, yes!)? Is there a relationship/marriage you wished you hadn’t been in? A school/college you wish you hadn’t attended, or a class, or a sport… Do you wish you hadn’t looked at that one site or magazine with that one photo that spiraled you into years of addiction?

What are your “if only’s” and “what if’s”?
If I was given the opportunity to go back in time and live a life where my mom was alive… would I do it?

If you were given an opportunity to go back and live your life without whatever caused you pain from happening, would you do it?
A part of me wants to say “Yes!!!!” I’d give anything to see my mom again. But honestly, I wouldn’t be where I’m at today if that was the life I ended up living. I may have still had a heart for women’s ministry, but I don’t think I’d have the empathy/sympathy that I have now. I wouldn’t have come from a broken home. I would have been one of those blessed girls that grew up in a solid household. As amazing and refreshing as that sounds, it’s not as relatable.

I’ll take the pain, damage, and years of counseling if that meant giving God the greatest glory through my life. The more we overcome, the more we can glorify and praise Him for His redemption and grace… And the more bridges we can gap with those in pain.

Anyway, just some food for thought.

Please, if you are stuck in the land of the “if only’s” and “what if’s,” find a trusted mentor and/or counselor and work through your pain. It’s time you began living in freedom and hope for the future.

Have a blessed day.

Woman of Purity~

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