“’For I know the thoughts that I think toward you,” says the Lord, ‘thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.” Jeremiah 29:11
What if all the “what ifs” we thought came true? Let’s be honest for a second because I know I’m not the only one who struggles with this. And in fact, lately it’s been a fear so suffocating I’ve let the sun set on some pretty great days without noticing. If every time you asked the question “what if”, would you have a great life or a life of despair? Are you believing the promise above, or bringing on more harm by your what if’s?
Recently, within one week I’ve had this conversation three different times. The “what if’s” of my thoughts were all focused on the wrong things. Not too long ago two very special people were almost involved in a head-on collision. My world might’ve been changed drastically in a flashing moment. Does that mean I should worry every time I or someone I love gets in a car because “what if” they crash and die? I know it might sound extreme, but often times in our thoughts it’s a reality that can become all-consuming.
Often the little “what ifs”, if they’re not dealt with, spiral into bigger “what ifs” that could become too big for us to handle on our own. Think about this for a second. Let’s say you’re not married and would really like to be. I’m sure the “what if” for you would be, “what if I never find someone to marry?” Ok. If we don’t deal with that, soon it might become, “what if nobody ever wants to marry me because I’m too… (you fill in the blank…too ugly, too skinny, too fat, too insecure, too many freckles, my hair is too frizzy, etc.). Soon, our problem is much bigger and way more complicated than just finding a spouse. This kind of thinking would eventually lead into a whirlwind of insecurity and self-loathing that is so much more serious than our concern of finding that special person. And while it may seem silly to outsiders, these fears are as real to the person as if they were all true.
The “what ifs” that I’ve struggled with have left me broken and in despair, curled up in a ball crying out to God, “why”, and asking Him to take these fears away. I want you to see, however, that none of my “what ifs” were real! They were all in my head. I allowed my thoughts to settle on the negative effects of the question instead of turning it around to the positive.
But now, let’s look at the other side of this. What if the “what ifs” were great expectations? What if the sun rose tomorrow on a new day of hope? “What if I get that raise I’ve been hoping for?” Or “what if my kids don’t blow up the house while I’m gone?” “What if my spouse really does love me for who I am?” Think about how differently you’d live your life if these were the types of thoughts that dominated, not the negative! I challenge you to try it. Start with just one day, or one hour even. And it’s ok if you don’t get it the first time. Start again. Say to yourself, “what if I say hi to that group of people at lunch when I walk by” instead of, “what if that group of people is talking about me?”
I know it hard. Trust me, I know it. I’m not encouraging you to do anything that I haven’t already had to do. Sometimes it’s almost impossibly hard. But not impossible. And I’m telling you, if you start thinking like that, you’ll be amazed at how better you feel inside! If you can’t do it on your own, you’re not alone. That’s why God says He will never leave us nor forsake us! (Deuteronomy 31:6) But you have to make the decision to stop asking yourself all the wrong “what if” questions and start believing God has a great plan for your life.
What if today is a new beginning to our “what ifs”? Let’s find out!