Wednesday, July 18, 2012

What If vs. What Is

Usually, for my blog posts, I just sit down at the computer at the end of the night, and whatever comes to mind is what I write out.  It's pretty much a "stream of consciousness" type deal.  Even the "deeper" posts, I generally don't put much prep thought into them and can usually write them in about half an hour because it all just sort of pours out of me. But during my last phone conversation with Michal, I told her about these days where I have a Bible verse stuck in my head all day long, and she oh-so-nonchalantly replied, "Yeah, that's God."  So I've been trying to be more attuned to when God might be speaking to me as opposed to it just being my own thoughts.  And I've had an idea for tonight's blog post in my head since I was walking out the door for work about 7:30 this morning.  Whether this is God's idea or mine, since I've been thinking about it all day and nothing out of the ordinary happened, I might as well write about it, right?

It's no secret that I second guess everything in life.  Basically every decision I have to make, no matter how small, comes down to me playing out all of the possible options and results in my head.  Even when I do make a decision, 99% of the time I end up wondering what would've happened if I had picked the other option.  If you know me the least little bit, you know that I am ridiculously indecisive.  That's probably why I pick the same things over and over again at restaurants and such - I hate having to make a new choice.

So since my indecisive nature is a pretty obvious fact about my personality, it should come as no surprise that I have been asked before if I ever wonder what life would be like if I were healthy or if I had a normally working body.

The honest answer?  I used to all. the. time.  Spend as much time as I did in bed 2006-2010 and you kinda have a tendency to get caught up in your own thoughts.  I remember it being especially brutal in the fall of 2009 when I was laid up in Duke knowing that I was missing out on my first chance to experience college.  In fact, I spent a lot of time wishing I could be someone else.

You would think that once I got on the other side of the foot surgeries drama, that wouldn't be such a big question in my life, but really, I still wondered.  What if I wasn't in this stupid power chair?  What if I wasn't in pain all the time?  Would I be healthy?  Would I play sports?  On and on and on.  Sure, it lessened as I got more caught up in school and made a social life for myself, but it still happened.

Now, I've gone more than a year with God making it darn near impossible for me to ignore the fact that my life and my story are making an impact on people.  I can't pretend that isn't true when I have people, some of whom I consider to be my role models, call me a hero because of my story.  The same church that , for all intents and purposes, kicked me out several years ago invited me back to speak this January because of my story.  I have non-Christian friends tell me they understand why religion matters to some people so much because of my story.  It's quite simply impossible to ignore.

And if you asked me to pick one surprising lesson I've learned from all of these people showing me the impact I've had, something beyond the given "God is amazing. God is a healer. God is always with me." type of answer, it would be this:

When you get caught up in the what if in life, you miss out on the what is, and the beauty of the what is can blow your mind.

This weak and often broken physical body God gave me has led me to opportunities that I couldn't have gotten if I were someone else.  They're the kind of opportunities that bring me to my knees asking God why He ever thought that I was qualified to handle them.  If I had stayed in that bubble of self-pity even longer than I did, I would've missed out on some conversations, opportunities, and friendships that have made me that much more grateful to God for the blessings He has given me.  If I had second guessed myself in the moment, I never would've told Bruno my story that day at lunch.  If I had second guessed myself in forming a friendship with Ryann because of preconceived notions, I would've missed out on a girl that loves me like a sister. Every second that I spent wishing I was somebody else is a second I wasted not seeing how beautiful life is, even in the darkness.  Every second I spent wishing I was living someone else's life is a second I wasted not living out the purpose God had for me when He created me.  When I finally started focusing on the concrete, real present and quit worrying about what could be, I gained a confidence in myself that made me seem noticeably different to the people around me.

God created me in this body, with all of its issues and problems, for a reason.  I am in no position to second guess His reasoning.  That's basically what it boils down to for me, which is why I don't second guess my existence anymore.  He has a plan for me.

"Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart." Jeremiah 1:5

"For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, your eyes saw my unformed body.  All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be." Psalm 139:13-16

And if I can apply that mentality to the big things in life, God, my life, my health, why the heck can I not apply that to the small things?  One of the biggest things God has been working on in me the past few months, and even more intensely the past couple of weeks, is that tricky little thing called trust.  I have to completely, 100% believe that He is in control and that I am not, even when it feels like my plans shatter and I have to deal with "Plan B".  It was never Plan B to God.  There was never a second when I wasn't going to have 19 surgeries, when I wasn't going to lose my dad on June 17, 1999, when I wasn't going to end up in DC this summer.  Every time I think about the "what if", I'm taking away my trust in a plan that is so far above me and so incredibly perfect.

My challenge to you and to myself is to focus on the what is.  Good or bad, focus on the right now, and what God wants you to get out of it.  He gave you this life for a very specific purpose.  You'll never see it if your head is somewhere else.  Even when it hurts, even when it's scary, He's still there, and He will still make something beautiful out of your life.  Redemption doesn't always look the way you expect it to look, but that doesn't mean it's not redemption.

"Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own." Matthew 6:34


  1. Yesterday, I was struck by a similar thought and wrote the following: "I know this hardship wasn't God ordained; but in His goodness, He produces things for my benefit within me. My heart and faith are strengthened by sustaining through His faithfulness. Perhaps this is what is meant by that which was intended to my harm and detriment has accomplished God's goodness within me." Whether God creates or allows the situation, it all comes down to our perspective of who He truly is that defines how we walk out of it. One thing I've been meditating on recently is His providence, which lead me to Job 10:12 from the Amplified "You have granted me life and favor, and Your providence has preserved my spirit. Job saw this truth in the midst of the seeming injustice that was all around him; He knew God was still just and faithful to preserve His spirit.

    I love this post, and will make it a point to ignore the what ifs and focus on the what is. Thank you for sharing this much needed word.

  2. “We have no right to ask when sorrow comes, “Why did this happen to me?” unless we ask the same question for every moment of happiness that comes our way.” ~Author Unknown

    You live your life this way. Thanks for the reminder to live mine this way also.