A few months ago, I had a birthday. By all standards, this was supposed to be an easy year. No big numbers involved. Just a normal birthday. What is normal anyway?
I had a quiet dinner with friends, great conversations, quality time. I’m finding that quality time is one of my love languages. I need it. I need it to not be rushed. I need it to just be. These are my favorite memories. Then, as it turned out, I had a surprise party with 70 people! Followed by having dinner with my two favorite guys and my mom! I was definitely celebrated!
For whatever reason, this birthday was not one of my favorites. The problem, in my eyes, was that I felt like I was old, or at least getting close to be being old. I like to think I’m a child at heart, but this birthday … Well, it caused a lot of emotions and thoughts.
It created “what if” statements and thoughts. Don’t you just absolutely hate that? As, you know from previous posts, I tend to wage war in my head with my thoughts. This birthday was no exception. I was gearing up for a “stepping out,” if you will, and I was terrified!
Here were my thoughts:
What if … I fail?
What if … I am alone forever?
What if? What if? What if?
So you can fully understand my angst, let me back-up a few years. I did the study of Esther by Beth Moore. I will never forget it! Now, don’t quote me on this, but it was either session three or four and Beth was discussing the entire concept of fear. At the time, I was in the very beginning of my biggest “what if” dilemma to date.
Throughout the study, Beth very openly shared her “what if” thoughts — how they almost paralyzed her. She shared that she had a meeting with Jesus and, basically, He asked her this one question over and over again: “What then?” I remember thinking, “OH MY GOSH,” I can’t believe this conversation! She and the Lord hashed it out all the way through the process, to the hypothetical scenario of what it would look like if her “what if” happened. I will never forget her response. She’s on her knees during the video, and her answer was profound: “Well, Lord, I guess I will pick myself up and go back to doing what you’ve called me to.”
I just wanted to believe that statement to be true for me, too. I wanted to own this statement, to make it my own, but I knew in this moment I was a split hair from falling completely apart.
So, ask yourself, what if the “what if” actually does indeed happen? Then what?
Fast forward to November 2016 …
The next time this was brought to my attention, I was at a Propel event. Christine Caine got up during a break between speakers and said, “Quit letting your ‘what-ifs’ be bigger than your ‘what Gods?’ Seriously? Right now? I might have said, “DANG!” just a little too loud.
Who decided those two words needed to go together? Isn’t it some sort of grammatical error or something? I wanted to just erase them from my mind. Reason being? It causes some serious doubt and insecurity in what I am already doing, right now, right here, in the current chapter of life I find myself in. I start to not trust the process, and then start doubting where God has placed me. Which, in turn, causes me to become a hot mess!
I just allow my brain to start voicing an opinion that is completely opposite of what, deep down, I know I believe.
Sometimes, I want to scream out that I’ve had enough. No more! (Except, I do not scream. I may yell, but I never scream).
Let me explain what happens when your “what if” happens. You get up the next day and you do what you know to do. Period. It isn’t fancy or world-changing. You just do it. Then, the next day, you do it all over again. And again. And again.
Before long, your “what if” and the devastations it has brought becomes your “then what?” So, let’s just go there:
What if I fail? Here’s my dilemma: I like to be organized, have everything in place, every document created, a website done, etc. before I start. I find that I want to be perfect before I ever start or give it a try. And, in the long-term, these become excuses. Lame.
I don’t know how to build a website, or design a one-pager or BLAH! BLAH! BLAH! These excuses let me off the hook from actually trying … I can keep my life and all the messy details all tied up with a nice bow.
Then, I find there’s a host of other factors. Namely, fear. It is a lack of confidence and not enough belief in myself to get the task at hand completed and be great at it!
The flip side to all of this is to learn how to respond to your own fear and doubt with “what if I succeed?”
You see, sometimes I really am afraid to be successful. Here’s the deal: I’m learning in the process of my everyday that I am in fact succeeding , but just taking steps out into the life that I want and that God has designed and prepared for me. My new goal is to think less of the “what ifs” and more about acting courageously. I’m venturing to do and say some things I have never had the courage to do or say.
I have a very good friend who is the most courageous person I know. Courage, as Brene Brown states, “doesn’t always roar. Sometimes, courage is the little voice at the end of the day that says ‘I’ll try again tomorrow.’” Courage means to do everything with your whole heart! I told my friend these two things recently: 1 – I appreciated her loaning me some courage just by watching how she lives! 2 – I wanted to be her when I grow up (not literally, of course, but to have that amount of courage is inspiring)! I cried the whole time I wrote her the note. She’s pure, full of undeniable, flat-out courage. It rubs off on everyone she inspires.
“What ifs” are sometimes (ok, oftentimes) the productive of our over-imaginative, over-thinking, anxiety-ridden minds at work. “What ifs” cause needless fear, worry, self doubt and, yes, stupidity.
If you take anything away from this blog post, I hope that it’s how blessed we are to have a God that allows us to cast our “what ifs” on Him. The second he died on that cross for us, our “what ifs” became 100 percent null and void. They simply don’t matter (easier said than done, I know). When you allow yourself to cast your burdens on our God, He will meet you and show you He can be trusted. The God who created the universe isn’t worried about failure. In fact, I bet He cannot wait until He gets to show us our purpose and bless us with the bravery and courage we need to fulfill our purpose. He wants us to use our gifts and take the trust fall back into His arms. Hear me … HE’S GOT THIS!
So, next time you find yourself asking, “what if I fail?” or “What if I run out of money?” I hope you think to yourself, “What if I fly?” or “What if God has a unique blessing and plans to provide for me if I follow His will?”
YOU KNOW YOU CAN DO THIS! It is time to cast your worries aside. Actually, it’s past time! As cliche as it may sound, this is a new year that is full of chances for you to improve yourself and the lives of those around you by taking the “scary” risks and really putting yourself out there for God to mold and use.
When your “what if” actually happens, I hope you see the blessing in the chaos. While most “what ifs” are just an illusion in our imaginations, just know that if yours does play out before your eyes, God will carry you every step of the way. You never know … a closed door could be the beginning of a new chapter.
Who cares if I fail, it’s the next step toward where God wants me next…. Right?
“We don’t need you to win, we need you to fail…..” At least if I fail, I will have tried.
How about you? What do you need to try today?