But we can’t let “what if” guide us. “What if” talks about the past, and we’re taught to live in the present. The present is all around us, and if we fail to see it, if we continuously look behind us, we’ll miss all the wonderful things we’re supposed to see today. What if? What if Lot’s wife had listened to what she was told and didn’t look back? (Gen 19:26) Looking back for her was a crucial mistake.
Still, we’re haunted with the “what ifs.” This past Sunday at church I found out that a friend of mine from college had died. When I first heard, “Did you know she died?” it was a shock, but I was okay. But then the conversation continued. My friend hadn’t just died – I thought it may have been a car accident or an illness I was unaware of (I lost another college friend about eight years ago to cancer) - she was murdered. It was an on-again, off-again relationship, and she feared for her life. Her house was up for sale, and she had all the locks changed. He lived with his parents across the street. “What ifs” started popping up in my mind. What if she explained her situation to the police? She never told them what was going on, or what she had feared. They were in the dark. What if, while her house was up for sale, she moved in with a friend? Her family didn’t live nearby, but surely someone would take her in in a heartbeat. What if she did end up moving down to Texas like her Texan friend had suggested (my friend lived in New York)?
None of that matters now. She’s gone. There’s nothing more anyone can do. There’s nothing more that she can do. All we can say is that she’s in a much better place where she no longer has to be afraid. She’s home with her Creator. She has left behind so many people who loved her, who mourn for her, but they all know she’s happy now.
Now it’s time to move on with our own lives. Dwelling on the past will keep us in the past. We still have a lot of work to do on the Earth before our time comes to be with the Lord. In the musical, Rent, there’s a song called, “No Day But Today.” One of the lines in there says, “Forget regret, or life is yours to miss.” Imagine all the things we will miss, all the things we have missed, because we can’t live in the day. Though we can never do anything about “what if,” we can do something about most regrets. Didn’t finish college? What’s stopping you from going back? Didn’t go to college but always wanted to? There’s a way. Left a friendship in ruins? Reconnect if only to apologize. Let your finances go haywire? Lesson learned, now do it right. We can learn from our past, and we should learn from it, but only take the knowledge gained, and leave everything else behind.
I’m still having a hard time with her death. The first day was horrible. Yesterday I thought would be better, but then my eight-year-old son made a comment to my husband trying to be funny, but it wasn’t, and that set me off for the morning. I could have dwelled on it, sat on my couch and watched TV all day long, eating foods I knew I shouldn’t be eating, but instead I put my energy into painting my hallway, something that I have been wanting to do for quite some time, and I feel great about it.
Though her death was a tragedy, and I can’t see any reason behind it, there are times when something in the past was the worst thing in our lives, but later we see that it was actually something good. To put a Biblical perspective one this, look at Jesus. What was he guilty of? Being different? Hitting the “hot buttons” on the Pharisees and Sadducees? He walked around, preaching love and faith in God. He healed many people, and more and more flocked to him, believing in him as the Messiah, and asking for healing. But in the end he died a horrible death; an embarrassing death. So many people turned against him, yelling, “Crucify him!” But he was innocent.
What if he didn’t die? What if God had taken the cup from him as he had asked in the garden of Gethsemane? Well, we wouldn’t have a chance. He died for our sins, and without him as our Redeemer, we would have no hope. No hope of going on to Paradise, no hope of eternal life. The choice that Adam and Eve had made in Eden would remain with us forever.
So while some things can’t be turned around, we should move on. Staying behind only hurts us. And those things we regret? There’s still a chance for most. Fixing past regrets may not happen the way you think it should, but there will be something you can do. Sometimes a person can die and you regret so much from when they were alive. Don’t make the same mistakes with someone else. I’ve grown up with the saying, “Let go and let God.” Sometimes that’s all we can do, and really, letting Him take over is the best thing we can do. In fact, it should be mandatory. He’ll guide our steps. He’ll show us what we need to do, and sometimes He’ll just do it for us.
So, let go of the “what ifs.” They won’t help you today. Fix those regrets. “Let go and let God.” He is a constant. I had a song continuously playing in my head yesterday while I was painting, and one of the lines said, “Mercy doesn’t care what you’ve done, so come home.” God’s grace and mercy will always be with you. Seek it out. And live for today.
Dear Heavenly Father, please take away our “what ifs” and all our regrets. Help us live for today, seeking you as we continue on in our lives. Guide us along the way, and show us what you want us to do in our lives. Each of us has a separate path that you’ve dedicated to us, but each of us share the same mercy and grace that you so freely give. Thank you, Lord, for giving us a chance.