Have you ever experienced extreme fear or deep regret?
I have and I bet you have too.
While there are valid reasons for both, most often in our everyday lives we experience fear or regret that’s not necessary.
Two little phrases which can produce fear or regret easily creep into our heads — if only and what if?
If only I had not come from a dysfunctional family. If only I had a spouse. If only my marriage wasn’t such a mess. If only I knew how to handle this child. If only my parents or in-laws understood how hard “it” is. If only my boss appreciated how hard I’m working. If only we could get out of debt. If only I had a different house. And our list goes on and on.
It’s easy for this little phrase to sneak into our minds without our even being aware that it has. It gets its clutches around our thoughts squeezing and manipulating our minds until we slip into dissatisfaction or self pity or blame. I can easily become a total grouch-unhappy about my circumstances, mad at someone else and then angry at what I’ve become.
Living in the mindset of if only will cause regret, stifle joy, and decrease hope. So what do we do if we find ourselves in this state?
- Recognize the trap we’ve fallen into.
- If any part of the if only is regret over something we have done or said for which we need to ask for forgiveness, do it. If we need to grant forgiveness, do it. Then let it go. God has chosen to forgive and forget. (Psalm 103)
- Choose to look to the future rather than the past knowing that God uses all things to work for good for those who love Him (Romans 8:28). He is a God of new things. Nothing is impossible for Him (Luke 1:37).
What if my marriage doesn’t make it, what if I never get married, what if I don’t get this job, what if we have to move, what if my child doesn’t get accepted for___. What if the medical test results are bad. And this list too goes on and on.
I have a big imagination and it’s very easy for me to fall prey to this phrase. It drives me crazy and makes me angry. What if the headache is really a brain tumor? What if my child’s late because he’s been in a terrible accident? Your what if’s might include: What if my child doesn’t make friends, gets hurt or sick. What if I blow this interview. What if I or someone I love is rejected, gets sick, or dies.
Living with a what if mentality causes fear. (I’m not talking about planning an event and considering contingencies here. That’s a different kind of what if.) When I’m honest I realize that I’ve let my fear become bigger than my God. I have lost perspective.
So what can we do?
- Recognize the trap that we’ve fallen into.
- Remind ourselves of how BIG God is. He is light and in Him there is no darkness at all. (1John1: 5) He knows all (Psalm 139). He is good.
- Say out loud the character traits of our loving Father. Somehow speaking out loud enables us to focus more on who He is instead of on our what if.
Both of these dangerous phrases are often tools of the enemy.
He knows where we are vulnerable. He wants us to live in fear or in regret. He wants to rob us of JOY. He is annoying but He does not have real power over us. “Greater is He who is in us than he who is in the world. “ (1John 4: 4)
God wants each of us to remember that:
- He is my Father who loves me completely unconditionally. Nothing can ever change this.
- He understands me even better than I understand myself.
- He will never ever leave me.
- He alone knows the future and He has a plan for my life.
He is my GOOD shepherd.
John 10: 11
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