I have a nasty case of the if onlys. Sometimes it’s worse than others, but I seem to never quite get over it. Perhaps you’ve also been infected and recognize the symptoms. If not, it starts something like this:
If only … I could lose five pounds, my jeans would fit better and I would be happier.
The infection gets worse from there:
If only … I had a bigger house, it wouldn’t be so messy. If only I had a nicer car, I wouldn’t be late since I wouldn’t have had to check the tires. If only I had a new oven and a better fridge, I would be a better cook. If only I made more money, I wouldn’t have to worry about the bills.
It goes on to infect other areas of life, especially my mothering: If only I had her personality/disposition/waistline/house/car/dog … etc, I would be a better mom.
It becomes acute when I start thinking: If only … I were different, things would be better.
Is this good, right, noble, and pure thinking, the kind in Philippians 4: 8? No.
Many years ago, while I was in college, God gave me a good dose of reality at the height of my eating disorder, which helped me turn this kind of toxic thinking around. One Sunday evening I arrived at a church meeting and met a new girl. She was adorable–thin, cute, and nice. After that, my if only disease went into fast forward. If only I looked like her, I could be cute, thin, nice, and happy. It was all I could think about–how I didn’t look as good as she did in her jeans and my life would be so much better if I did.
I would have gone home deflated had she not had the courage to tell me more about her life. She was in recovery from a severe eating disorder and had just been released from a treatment center. That night was one of her first nights out. Ack! I had spent the entire night being envious of a girl in worse shape than myself. The irony caught me in the heart. I don’t have a clue what the sermon was that night, but I hope I never forget God’s stirring in my heart.
I often think back on that moment when I have an if onlys relapse. Then I take a good dose of the cure: thanking God for what He has given me.
May your day be thankful.