If. Two tiny letters. One small word. A huge impact.
It’s a powerful word of condition, full of possibility and regret.
In the future, if can make anything happen:
If I get into my dream school . . .
If I lose weight . . .
If I win the lottery . . .
In the past, if keeps us up at night bemoaning what we wish had or hadn’t been:
If only I hadn’t said . . .
If I had waited ten minutes before getting in the car . . .
If I hadn’t bought that . . . .
If robs us of the present.
It makes us dissatisfied with the right here, right now. Past if’s rob us of today’s joy when we assume that everything bad today could have been prevented with better past decisions. And we can always imagine a better future in a tomorrow that never comes.
Living in the if requires faith. Requires letting go.
Right now, as I’m packing, planning, and preparing to move to another country for at least a year, my mind is full of if’s:
What if it’s not perfect? (Because, you know, at some point it’s gotta be, right?)
What happens if I’m not over Lyme at the end of my treatment and I’m in another country?
What if I run out of money?
But . . .
What if it’s a fabulous experience?
What if God has called me to something so amazing I couldn’t possibly imagine it right now? (Because how could I, right?)
What if I learn to rely on God instead of my own perseverance and capabilities?
What if all of it? Because that’s more likely. The good and the bad. The planned and unexpected.
The future is always full of meetings and events of greater beauty and horror than we could possibility imagine. The past is rife with events so painful we can’t face them yet, and mundane moments whose beauty in retrospect now take our breath away.
We can’t prevent life from happening by running through all the scenarios. And a different past wouldn’t guarantee a better present.
Today at lunch with a dear friend, our last before I leave, she said that she was trying to hold life more loosely. I love that. She didn’t mean frivolously. She meant letting up on the death grip of control a little bit. Allowing room for spontaneity and joy. Giving space for unplanned conversations with cashiers and watching a rainbow form after the rain.
What if we lived life today. Not even today. Right now. If this exact moment was perfectly beautiful as is, imperfections and all, what would it look like?
An amazing, beautiful, real life?