Living with “What Ifs”

We all face "what if" and "if only" moments. I easily overwhelm myself with the guilt of "what ifs."

What if I had done such and such differently?

What if I hadn't spoken those words so harshly?

What if I had sought God more before making that decision?    

If only so and so would do such and such.

What ifs……only ifs……they suffocate.

Living amidst "what ifs" of the past strangles the gift of grace. It's not always easy to forgive ourselves, but we must. "What ifs" shift our focus away from the purpose God has given us.  The "only ifs" steal the joy from the here and now.

Psalm 103:10 -12 (NIV)

He does not treat us as our sins deserve

Or repay us according to our iniquities.

For as high as the heavens are above the earth,

So great is his love for this who fear him;

As far as the east is from the west,

So far has he removed our transgressions from us.

So how do I refocus on the purpose God has for me and find that grace to let go of the guilt that sneaks in. 

Jeremiah 29:11-13 (NAS)

 11'For I know the plans that I have for you,' declares the LORD, 'plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope.12'Then you will call upon Me and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. 13'You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart. 

I seek Him. When I find myself too busy or tired to carve out the time to intentionally seek Him I discover myself contemplating the "what ifs" once again. It requires self discipline. This is my weakness. But the more I do the more I find myself aching for that time. When I'm purposeful with this time God is faithful and keeps my focus grounded where it needs to be.

Psalm 40:2 (NIV)

He lifted me out of the slimy pit,

       out of the mud and mire;

       he set my feet on a rock

       and gave me a firm place to stand. 

Finding stillness in God's presence keeps my thoughts focused on His plan and purpose and not on my mistakes. When I'm focused on Him I don't miss out on the joy He gives in the every day moments. 

Philippians 3:13-14 (NIV)

13 Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. 

When I focus on the experiences I no longer have control over I can't fulfill his purpose. My eyes are not on the goal and I risk losing what he has in store for me in the present and in the future.

Are there "what ifs" you struggle with? What do you do to let the guilt of those "what ifs" go?


Share article

Copyright © 2023 Amy Nabors.