Do you live by pre-if's, post-if's, or both? Do you live your life already regretting the future by constantly saying, "If only I could...?" Do you a live your life living in the past by always saying, "If only I had done...?"
Every moment we have on this earth is a precious gift given to us by an almighty, all-loving God.
When we let moments go to waste because of our preoccupation with what we could have done, or what we wish we could do, we are squandering what God has planned for us. You could say, we are looking a gift God in His mouth.
Sure, there are times when we mentally snap our fingers saying, that was an opportunity I should have taken, or that was something I could have done or said differently.
Yes, as we look ahead, a key part of creative and opportunistic living is letting your imagination consider different scenarios, new ways of doings things. Curiosity is a good thing.
But in standing still, regretting the past or ruminating over what we could do in the future only if certain things happen, we are being exactly what the Apostle Paul describes as a "double-minded person." We are held back by the past and pushed back by the future.
What's the solution? Here are a few ideas if you are a Pre-If person, a Post-If person, or both.
Accept the fact you could have done things differently in the past. Forgive yourself and move on.
Accept the fact that there is always a certain amount of uncertainty about the future. Puts worries in perspective.
Ask what damage "what-if" thinking is doing or has done in your life---lost opportunities.
Stop "what-if's" in their tracks. Focus on the realities of the past and the future, and let them be.
Constructively use the past. Look for what you've learned. Keep the past in perspective.
Constructively use the future. be positive as you use S.M.A.R.T. planning.
Center yourself on what God wants you to do through prayer. Keep the future in perspective, God's perspective.
"What-if thinking" is like being on a treadmill, going nowhere fast. Get off the treadmill and run energetically into the future by placing yourself in God's almighty, loving hands, and remaining confident He will keep His promises.
Listen to God's Words
Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 3:13-14)
Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland. (Isaiah 34:18-19)
Jesus replied, “No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God. (Luke 9:62)
Also read: Psalm 37:1-6, Matthew 6:33, Romans 8:5
What Others Say
“We all make mistakes, have struggles, and even regret things in our past. But you are not your mistakes, you are not your struggles, and you are here NOW with the power to shape your day and your future.” Steve Maraboli
“Faith is moving forward even when things don’t make sense, trusting that in hindsight everything will become clear.” Many Hale
“I’m looking forward to the future, and feeling grateful for the past.” Mike Rowe
“Don’t dwell on what went wrong. Instead, focus on what to do next. Spend your energies on moving forward toward finding the answer.” Denis Waitley
Think About It
Over the next week, notice how many times you say or think "what if," regarding what you've done in the past or what you may not do in the future.
Consider the reasons why you are showing regret, or why you are worried about taking future actions.
Practice releasing the past and the future into God's hands. Describe the sense of freedom you begin experiencing each time to give it to God.