Living the “What if …” Life

Anxiety. Fear. Worry. Paralyzed. These are real things that happen when we play the “what if …” game in our minds.

Backstory – I love reading alternate histories. What if aliens invaded during WW2? What if Japan took Hawaii in 1941? What if Rome never fell? What if America never got its freedom from Great Britain? Authors like a Harry Turtledove and Robert Conroy delight my reading habits.

Recently, I finished Conroy’s 1862, a fiction work proposing England allied with the Confederacy in the Civil War. But in this work, the war ended within a year (thus the title, 1862) with a quick Union victory. Portions of Canada became part of the USA, Hawaii went to Great Britain, Lincoln wasn’t killed, Lee was wounded, Grant was still the hero, and the main character (Nathan) found love again.

These works basically answer the question, “What if …?” And the resulting literary results tantalize one’s imagination.

But not all “What if …?” questions are so delightful. Too often, we fill our life with unneeded anxiety. What if I lose my job? What if the doctor says I have cancer? What if Trump wins/loses (you choose your fear)? What if my kid gets sick? What if my car breaks down? What if Trump wins/loses (you choose your fear)? Yes, I know I repeated that, but it seems that’s a big fear these days, no matter which way you lean.

I hated sleeping at Grandma’s House

I remember as a kid hating to sleep at my grandmother Key’s house. There were trees. (Stay with me) These trees were right outside the bedroom window. At night, the wind caused them to scratch against the window. When cars drove by, the limbs cast moving shadows across the bedroom walls and ceilings. I would think, “what if ” they were monsters out to get me? (I’m shivering a bit even as I type this.) What if I never get out of this house alive and am killed tonight by the tree monster? But the attacks never came. I was safe all along.

There is an old Swedish proverb. Worry gives a small thing a big shadow.

In this crazy, messed up world, we need to battle the anxiety caused by the “What if …” game. We need to realize there is a bigger picture that puts life in perspective. We worship a big God who’s got it in his hands. He directs kings and governments like water in the palm of his hands. He can calm the storms or he can give us strength and peace to last the storms out. He shuts the big cats’ mouths or he brings us home to be in heaven. Either way, we’re good.

And when you grasp God’s got it, life is so much more enjoyable. So let go of the fears … God is bigger, surrender the anxiety … he cares for you, trust in Him … he is ever faithful.

One last thought for those who just can’t stop thinking, “What if …?” Turn it around. Instead of “What if …?” being negative, think positive. Afraid of making a mistake, what if God blessed greatly? Worried about a difficulty at work or in a relationship, what if that which I see as a problem is really an opportunity to see God work a miracle or God use me to help others? Paralyzed to step into new challenges, what if taking the chance opens doors of excitement for new and better experiences?

Stop wasting your life away by focusing on negative “What if …?” scenarios. Don’t obsess on what can go wrong but focus on what can go right. It’s not “What if …?” It’s “Even if …” Even if everything goes wrong, God still is in control.

God’s got it. Trust him.

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