It seems like every time there is a major life change (good or bad) our mind starts spitting out “what it’s” faster than popcorn.
I get hurt
It doesn’t work
It cost too much
I look stupid
I get burned
I waste my time/ this is a waste of time
I’m making a mistake
I’m tricking myself into believing ______
It’s too good to be true
I’m over my head
I’m out of control/ I can’t control this
Behind almost every “what if” is a fear. Did you know that fear isn’t something we are born with? Fear is a learned behavior; a learned reaction pattern if you will.
Our “what ifs” are a direct reflection of what we have learned or been taught to most fear. These may be things that we’ve heard someone say so often that we subconsciously take ownership of them or the result of a difficult life lesson. Perhaps we hear just a little too often:
I’m afraid that…
I’m gonna fall
I’m gonna fail
I’m I can’t control everything
I won’t be the same
It’s gonna snow
It might rain
Of letting go
As a child we are afraid of nothing. I remember being a bit of a dare devil…of pushing the envelope…of doing things for the sheer joy of proving I could.
I remember falling out of a tree at about age 5. Why? Well because I wanted to know what the world would look like if I walked on my hands and not my feet. So I was hanging upside down just enjoying view. There were no adults around (they were in the house chatting, this was pre-Adam Walsh, pre-bike helmets, pre-bubble wrap and Duck tape to just be a kid) to tell me the limb of my choice was to thick for my little vertically challenged legs to grip well…and I fell. It was not a long fall, the limb was level with my head when I was standing right-side up on the ground. It was enough of a fall to knock the air out of me. …and I had a typical me type reaction.
Once I was breathing (and ran in the house to tattle to my mom and had vented my frustration & displeasure that no one came to check on me – my aunt had walked by without giving aid, in her defense-she had no clue what had happened) I promptly re-climbed the tree, and happily hung myself upside down from the SAME limb…just to see if could beat my own best time for Olympic Tree Hanging Endurance.
I don’t ever even thinking what if I fall again…I remember thinking how much longer can I last. I don’t remember thinking – look how tall the tree; I remember thinking how fast can I get to the top. I lived with skinned & scabbed knees. I remember swinging upside down from the monkey bars flapping my arms…and not hanging but swinging…dreaming I was spiraling, dancing, flying through the air – a world famous gymnast (the 1984 Summer Olympics had just ended)…a maybe a Bird soaring and free flying…but I don’t remember thinking “what if”.
So now as an adult I look back at my younger self…and wonder…where did I go? How did the girl afraid of nothing turn into the woman ruled by “what ifs”…wherever she’s gone…I want her back.
What would my life look like if I completely eliminated fear and walked on faith? (Now at this point some well meaning person is gonna say – well a certain amount of fear is healthy. Please don’t deliberately misunderstand me – I’m not saying go play in a busy street.) Over and over, repeatedly in the Bible from Genesis to Revelation we see the phrase “fear not”.
…and the we see, the other side of fear. We see Abraham leaving his father’s house, to a become the patriarch of millions. We see the prostitute Rahab, raised into a woman significance and named in the lineage of Christ. We see a shepherd boy David evolve into a king. We see a fearful man Gideon grow to a man of valor. We see Hosea love God so much that he can extend love to his unfaithful wife without reciprocation. We see Peter overcome his fear of the storm and walk on the water. …and on and on and on.
So what happens if, we the the “what ifs” in life to shut up? What happens if we choose to believe the positive “what ifs” and not the negative ones? What happens when we stare fear in the face – and step through it?
You will never know until you try.
Statistically the things we fear the most are the least likely to happen. Letting our minds meditate on the “what ifs” is the handcuffs we shackle ourselves with as we self-condemn ourselves to the prison of fear. In faith there is freedom.
I would like to challenge you to submit your fear filled “what ifs” to God and them Him guide you through the storm and teach you to walk the waves of your life.
Change doesn’t have to be bad, sometimes it’s very positive – but you will never know until you step to the other side of fear and eradicate the fearful “what ifs”.