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Tuesday, March 4, 2014

How do you do "What If?"

I often say around my house, "I don't do what if."

When I say "I don't do what if," I'm normally referring to the kind of hypothetical "what if" that precedes a possible future negative scenario, one triggered by doubt or worry or fear of an unknown future event. "What if we get in an accident."  "What if we run out of money before we run out of bills."  "What if my child makes a bad decision?" Those kind of "what ifs" are almost never fruitful.

I also refuse to "what if" in response to concerns over the theoretical consequences of a past action or decision. "What if I should have taken that other job?"  "What if I shouldn't have said that to him?"  "What if I chose the wrong husband?" More useless and pointless what ifs.

These are the kinds of what ifs I try not to give voice to. 

Some "What Ifs" We Should Do

I'm thinking that there are times that I maybe should actually do a little more "what iffing."  No, not the negative, worry-filled kind. I mean maybe I should do some more hope-filled, promise-motivated, truth-oriented "what iffing."

Maybe you should join me.

Yes, lets go ahead and put aside those fretful "what ifs," and grab hold of a few altogether different ones like these:
  • What if God loves you and me as much and as relentlessly as He says He does?
  • What if the promises of the Bible are really true and really for you and me?
  • What if God's enduring faithfulness really does reach to the heavens and right into our circumstances?
  • What if perfect love really does cast out fear, and what if that perfect love dwells right inside us?
Now there are some what ifs worth focusing on!

A Bit of Marriage "What If"

I wrote the following bit of "What If" prose a few years ago for a marriage retreat the I helped lead. I was reminded of it while writing this post. It's another bit of "what if" that is well worth considering.
  • What if marriage is more than simply a convenient social institution for orderly human procreation?
  • What if marriage was purposefully conceived by God before all time in order to create a living picture of His desire to dwell in intimacy with you and me?
  • What if, when he created the first marriage in the Garden, he already knew that he would ultimately send his Son, Jesus, to be our heavenly Bridegroom, and planned to send Him to His death so that we could live in intimacy with Him forever?
  • What if God, who was willing to go to any length to be in relationship with you, made you for the express purpose of loving you unconditionally and not for what you could “do” for Him?
   Just Think.  What if...?
  • What if this understanding of God’s love for you sheds light on the way you are to love your husband or wife? 
  • What if the primary purpose of your marriage was simply to love your spouse and not so much so that you could get them to do what you want, to meet your needs, or even so that they would love you in return. 
  • What if  love was your only motive.
  • What if love was your spouse’s only motive? 
  • What if you knew that he or she was only after your heart and not your conformance to a set of expected behaviors. 
  • What if what mattered most to your spouse was to live in intimate relationship with you and not how they could get their own needs met.
  • What if you were both able to love each other “as if” your love was already a perfect reflection of the selfless love of God, even when you behave otherwise, in the same way that God loves us.
What kid of marriage would you have then?

What about you? Do you tend to do the negative "what if" thing? Can you offer some alternative, truth-filled "what ifs" besides the ones I listed?  I'd love to hear your ideas. Leave a comment.


Beth Templeton said...

Scott, this is so so good! (once again!) I really love the positive what if's. Thank you-- I am going to start saying "I don't do what if's" too. I love that-- and I need to take that stance. Thanks for this.

Anonymous said...

This is so true! What I found for me was that saying 'what if' gave me an excuse to not do the hard stuff and an excuse to not go first.

Scott said...

Thanks, Beth, I'm so glad the post touched and inspired you.

Robyn, I agree that "what if" can be paralyzing! Good point.

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