A few weeks ago Donald Miller talked about the most important question you can ask yourself: What if?
It is an encouraging and forward-thinking question. It got me thinking what if I asked that question more often and asked this one less:
What could have been?
It’s the question that turns your head back to look at your past. To re-think it, to wonder what would have been different had you… What could have been better had you… Where you would be living now if you had just… Who you would be with if you hadn’t…
The “What Could Have Been” is a pit.
And it can get deep fast if you’re not careful.
I spent a lot of the last year asking myself what could have been. I felt regret and sadness over a broken relationship and re-ran scenarios in my head, conversations. You know the drill.
What-could-have-been can make a person crazy.
So why do we ask the question so much?
I think because it’s easier to look behind than it is to look ahead. The past is comfortable. You know what happens there because it, well, already happened. It’s illuminated. The past is the easiest place for your mind to find but the hardest to leave. You can get trapped there.
The future on the other hand has no lit path. It looks dark ahead of you. You don’t know what’s there and stepping into it can feel impossible.
Even if you think you know what the future holds and you’re looking at your to-do list and reading this and telling yourself, “I’m not scared. I know exactly what I’m doing.” You don’t. You can’t. His ways are higher than ours; his thoughts above ours (Isaiah 55:9).
It’s good to reflect on the past.
But if the reflection turns to regret, guilt or anxiety, maybe it has gone too far. Maybe you’re getting too comfy in the past and need to turn your head around and look forward.
We just came out of season in which we commemorated Christ’s birth. And what was Christ’s birth a symbol of?
Hope for mankind.
There is no hope in your past so stop trying to find it there. (tweet this).
Hope is ahead of you. Light is at the end of the tunnel, right?