Do you ever look at some event in your life and wish you could do it over? Maybe it was because it was so seemingly perfect that you wish you could experience it one more time. Sometimes, people even go back to places where particular events happened in an attempt to re-live the moment. But of course that never works. The place has changed. The people have changed.
Sometimes, however, you wish you could do something over because maybe this time you could make it right. I call this the game of ‘what if’. The problem is, in the game of ‘what if’ you always come out the loser. Mostly, that’s because it is impossible to know how the outcome would have changed with a different set of choices. We like to imagine it would change for the better. But it is equally possible that it could have changed in a negative direction.
I’m at that place in parenting where I often reflect back on decisions I made regarding my children. Its pretty easy to wander into the land of ‘what if.’ I see the choices my children have made and overall, I am just so proud of them. But every now and again I wonder…..
What if I had said no on that particular night, or yes on some particular day? What if I had forbid that harmful relationship? What if I had encouraged that particular activity rather than letting them quit because they thought they hated it and constantly complained? The list could go on and on.
And there are some things I know I simply did badly.
But you can’t do life over. You get one shot. That’s it. Nothing put that more in focus for me than the day I got a call from my father that my sister had died the night before. I wished for more time, for opportunities to do some things over.
Eventually I realized that there is no way to do everything right, to be perfect in my relationships with the people I loved the most. But I also realized that God can not only forgive my inadequacies and sins against others, but also can take my efforts and make more out of them than I ever imagined.
So when I start to play the ‘what if’ game, whether its with my parenting or my teaching or anything else, I try to listen to God telling me, often in the quietness of my heart, “Quit worrying. I’m always here. When you feel successful, and when you feel like an abysmal failure. Do your best. I’m with you. I’ve got it covered.” I hope you hear that voice too.