What if I hadn’t been slowing down so early on the way to my appointment today?
I’ve slid into place at that same intersection hundreds of times before, often letting a “California Stop” take me into my right turn without another thought.
But not today.
Today I was distracted.
(Some, who know me well, might ask, “And how is that different than any other day since you began managing life as a homeschool mom of one, two, three, four, five, and then six?”)
I was distracted, and sort of crept towards the intersection the last little bit. Because I was distracted, I came to a complete stop just before the crosswalk (I know, this is supposed to be the norm; it’s just that it’s not… just bein’ honest)…
So there I was, stopped… when a kid on a bicycle breezed across my lane just inches from my car’s hood.
It was shocking, really.
Instantly I was reminded of the tragic accident that took place earlier this month.
Another driver was distracted by his burden, much greater than mine. Only, in his case, he turned to alcohol to numb the pain, then got behind the wheel and soon drove smack dab into six kids on a sidewalk. One girl died. Others suffered traumatic injuries.
So when I saw this child on two wheels and realized how easily I might have hit him, my first thought was, “Wow! Thank God I was distracted and didn’t roll through that turn! What if I hadn’t been distracted?”
And then I saw how crazy it all is. How could my distraction be good, and another person’s distraction bad? Yet I was labeling mine “good” because it kept me from hurting someone. That “what if I hadn’t” was getting my attention. But it’s not the “what ifs” we should be focusing on.
What ifs don’t help us, and what ifs don’t hurt us.
What ifs are empty promises and powerless threats.
What if I have success? It’s not forever.
What if I write a New York Times bestseller, make oodles of money and change thousands of lives? The money will be gone soon enough, and the changed lives will continue to change – some for the better, some for the worse. Because most of those readers will move on to another author soon enough, and I will be forgotten, my bestseller obsolete.
What if I hadn’t been such an awful failure at XYZ? The people affected wouldn’t have had so many opportunities to develop character, and I wouldn’t have learned so many lessons.
What if I blow it at my “one chance” of creating an amazing product? God, my true friends, and my family will still love me. And I can try again.
If I focus on the “what ifs” of this temporal life, I will lead myself to a ridiculous obsession with results that can either 1. paralyze me with fear of failure, or 2. disrupt work-life balance as I press on toward the goal, so certain I can “make it happen” that family and faith are pushed to the side “just until I get this last thing done.”
No, what ifs are a poor way to do life.
Far better to expect God to be good, people to be unpredictable, and the world a wildly wonderful yet dangerous place.
Far better to count my blessings and thank God for every one of them.
Far better to realize that it’s not the book we write that will be so amazing. It’s not the dream board accomplished that will be worth all the late nights and early mornings.
Far better to consider that the journey really is the prize. The adventure of learning to walk with God. The excruciatingly painful joy of allowing Him to work in me to will and do of His good pleasure when my flesh and emotions, like petulant children, are demanding their own way.
What ifs never did do anything.
What IS, is where it’s at. And what IS, is reality.
What IS, is taking those baby steps to the goal, and stopping when the clock says it’s time.
What IS, is walking each step-by-agonizingly-slow-step, trusting God for the outcome.
Making time to nurture relationships. Going to bed at a decent hour, even when I’m “on a roll.” Even at 2 in the morning, writing this post that accuses me before I hit Publish.
What if I hadn’t stayed up so late? Well, this post wouldn’t be written, and I wouldn’t be so certain I should never be so foolish again.