Monday, June 27, 2011

What If?

Last night, as part of the Father/Daughter activities with Nighean Dhonn we watched VeggieTales "It's a Meaningful Life". The script itself is a takeoff from a more famous movie of a similar name (no surprise from the title there) and follows the regrets of one man (well, cucumber really) as he wonders how his life would have been different had he made "the big catch" in a football game become a sports star. He's given a chance to know by Gabe, the conductor on the "What If Express" where he sees the impact on himself and his family by what would have happened had he lived the life he expected - and wanted - to live. Finally, he's given the choice to go back to the life he had or continue with the life he saw. Our lives, Gabe reminds him even as he reminded his daughter, are in God's hands and God's plans are better than anything that we could do for ourselves.

Behind every hypothetical, says Gabe, is a theoretical.

It made me wonder as I sat there about the hypotheticals in my own life, the what-ifs that I (all too often) dwell on as points of failure in my life, things that could have gone different - should have gone different.

What if I had entered the ministry? What if The Firm had taken off? Where would I be? More importantly, who would I be?

I tend to dwell on the things in my life that have not gone as well as I would have hoped (don't tell my friends or family this - they would be shocked!), perhaps assuming by default that success is equivalent to better. However, the two are not interchangeable. Not all success lead to places we want to go, and not all failures mean that have failed to attain that which we were striving for.

For every failure that I measure, I fail to account for the successes that arise from the failure. And I miss those things that could have happened only because of what that "failure" brought.

Hypotheticals, in our mind, almost only lead to good theoreticals, never to the bad ones. But we've no more rationale to say that one was more likely than the other, except that we believe it to be so.

Take confidence, then, in God's plan and the outcomes that have come into your own life. His hypotheticals are far better than any theoretical we could have ever designed - or imagined.


  1. I wholeheartedly agree with this - every significant "mistake" I've made in my life, every "bad break", has led me down a path without which I would not be who I am today. My first marriage gave me these beautiful children, no matter what other disasters she laid at my feet, and I learned much from living with her insecurities and needs that made me more ready fot marriage to my first love today. The bad job I took twelve years ago taught me a great deal about how to teach in difficult circumstances that I use regularly today... and so on. Just today, I was reminding my bride (insecure about her health and feeling like she was somehow "letting me down" by not being physically able to do more) that I hadn't understood why God had brought us together NOW instead of twenty years ago... but NOW is when she needed me in her life, and NOW is when my children and I needed her.

  2. Far more eloquently put than I ever could.

    There is an old poem witten by a confederate solider that express this beautifully:

    I asked God for strength that I might achieve.
    I was made weak that I might learn humbly to obey.
    I asked for health that I might do greater things.
    I was given infirmity that I might do better things.
    I asked for riches that I might be happy.
    I was given poverty that I might be wise.
    I asked for power that I might have the praise of men.
    I was given weakness that I might feel the need of God.
    I asked for all things that I might enjoy life.
    I was given life that I might enjoy all things.
    I got nothing that I asked for, but everything I hoped for.
    Almost despite myself, my unspoken prayers were answered.
    I am, among all men, most richly blessed.

    (Hat tip:

    It comforts me that you can see this in your own life, and gives me hope that I will be able to see it in mine.


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