I love having conversations. Not small talk but actual conversations. I don’t know why it is but small talk is weird for me. I think it’s because I’m the type of person who likes to be connected to others. I like to learn about people, their stories, their families. So while I know small talk serves a purpose, I want to get to the nitty gritty of it all and really talk about the things in life that we are experiencing. I’ve found through conversation we often learn that we are not as alone as we think we are. Conversation is one of the best ways to encourage each other. So anyway, as I was saying, LOL I love to have conversations and I was having one the other day with some co workers. I was talking about how sometimes on social media people post these messages. These posts can sometimes go on and on and on about what will happen in the future, what can or will happen if we don’t do this or don’t to that.
I have learned over time to not spend a lot of times in the what if area. I used to though! There have been so many times where I’ve stressed over and wondered what if we don’t have the money for this bill, what if we can’t take the kids to celebrate their birthday the way that they want, what if I do something wrong at work, what if, what if, what if? It’s a crazy cycle and a deep rabbit whole to go down. I used to drive myself bananas constantly wondering about what might happen in the future and how to handle that. I had a plan a, b and maybe a c. I want to clarify that I don’t think there’s anything wrong with thinking about the future and having a plan. But I also think that we shouldn’t allow ourselves to get so caught up in the thoughts of the future that we miss the moments we have that we should be present for. All those “what if” moments of wondering what might happen if we didn’t pay something or didn’t have the money all seeming worked out so well that I don’t even recall the stress of it. What if you don’t have the money to pay a bill….well let me tell you, you can’t give what you don’t have so you do your best and keep moving forward. These are the things we need to tell ourselves when presented with situations where we’re worried or stressed over what can happen.
My oldest daughter lives in overseas with her dad. Both him and his wife work for the government so they live near the military base there. The experience of having her be so far away and then with everything happening right now in the world, not knowing when I’ll get to see her is beyond tough. I have cried about it. It has hurt me to my core. I have also been angry about it. It feels unfair! Not just to me but also to her. I have had moments when we were trying to work this out where I’ve thought “Well what if she doesn’t get to come home for summer? What if we can’t celebrate her birthday? What if it’s Christmas before she comes home?” But I had to catch myself. Mostly because the realization of not knowing made it harder. It made the feelings heavier and instead of focusing on all the fun things I could do once I see her I started feeling sad that I wouldn’t be able to during the time frame I’d like to.
And that is what the “what if’s” create. If we let them they can remind us of what we don’t have or cause additional stress that we don’t need. It will allow us to focus on what we are losing instead of what we are gaining or even what we could gain. Sometimes instead of thinking what if this happens or what if that happens, switch it a little and say what if this happens? And what’s the benefit from this happening? How do you see the benefit of something that seems sad, awful and scary? I’m so glad you asked?! LOL. While it is so hard for me to wrap my mind around all of the delays in seeing my daughter, to help myself move through these moments emotionally I have asked well what are the positives? Right now she’s in an environment that doesn’t have corona-virus cases. She is asthmatic and that could greatly affect her so that’s a bonus. They are trying to move back stateside and their goal is to move to Georgia but the position her Dad has in now in North Carolina. North Carolina is certainly closer than overseas but it’s not the same as Georgia and well that’s where I live! So maybe in this moment of delay God is working things out so that they can move to Georgia and she can be even closer!
So if I’m looking at my what if’s and I answer my own questions- “What if she doesn’t come home for summer?” I’ll see her later when it’s safer.” What if we can’t celebrate her birthday on her birthday?” We’ll celebrate when she gets here. I’ve also got to slide in that I got this answer from my spiritual mother. I’m so grateful to have people in my life who shed light on the positive and don’t let you linger in that rabbit hole of never ending sadness. Celebrations don’t have to happen on the day of. It’s the memories that count! So her sweet 16th will be just that much sweeter when she gets here. “What if it’s Christmas before she comes home?” Well that’s the best time of the year! It’s a time where you are reminded to be grateful. We’re typically surrounded by family and everyone will get the chance to see her and love on her. It’s about working through those moments of uncertainty and not allowing it to drag you down. Doesn’t mean that it will be easy every day all of the time but the more you push those what if’s to the side and think about the good things the easier it will be to not stay in those hard places.
As I previously stated, the “what if’s” also keep you from being present in the moment. They keep you from enjoying right where you are. Right now I can’t physically see her but we can face time and text most all day. I bought a devotional that I wanted her and my youngest daughter to start doing together with me and we’ll start that soon. Right now she can’t hold the book and follow along with us but I can take pictures of the devotional that we are reading for that day, send it to her and we can face time to share in the moment together. Right now I cannot have her a birthday party or gathering but I can, and I have, invited loved ones to participate in a zoom call and we can have her a zoom party where we celebrate her and sing happy birthday. If I had stayed in that place of “what if” wondering and being sad or stressed over them coming true- and some times your what if’s come true people!– I would not have been able to refocus and use the present moments of right now.
I want to encourage you to take your “what if’s”, whatever you are struggling with- whether it’s trying to make a decision or the fear of the unknown, your finances, how you’re going to start a business- whatever it is. Write your what if list out and then think about a bonus, a positive, a plus that could come from that what if happening. Think about how it can work for your good. Think of ways that if it happens how it can benefit you. And then think about your present. If the what if doesn’t affect the present moment and doesn’t change anything in the immediate future stop focusing on it. Stop giving it steam so that it can continue to steam roll through your day or even your week. Don’t let your mind keep creating scenarios that could possibly never even happen and keep you from moving forward, being present, staying positive and living life. And if they do happen God has already given you everything you need to work through the situation or to learn and accept the benefits attached to your what-if moments. You are already a winner!