I expect everyone imagines to some extent. I certainly hope so, otherwise life really would be boring. I’ve found that I can imagine almost anything, quite vividly. It comes in very handy when I’m making up stories for the kids, and probably was more handy when bending the truth to the breaking point as a teen. Recently I’m finding it is also really useful in understanding people. The bloodshot eyes on the kid in Orlando letting me know she’d been to the beach, or the slow movements of the teen whose been hurt.
The problem with that imagination is that it’s easy to wonder “what if”. While it doesn’t happen all the time, I spend a bit of time wondering about what could have been, or what would have happened.
Every now and then I wonder how my life would have been different if I’d married the girl I dated for almost two years in college instead of Erin, really the only other person I seriously considered spending the rest of my life with. There’s the obvious stuff, like I wouldn’t have two wonderful kids who mean more to me than anything. But, to be honest, that might just mean I’d have two wonderful kids who mean more to me than anything with someone else really.
There were some big differences in our own interests, and I have no question Erin and I click incredibly well because of our work, technology, organization and all sorts of other interests. It may not make sense but I’m not thinking about this as being about Erin , it’s about what my life outside the family would be.
I really am a firm believer that God brings two people together for a purpose, and that he brings the right person for you to spend your life with. That does not mean that there’s only one person for any other one person. There are many, many people that God can use, and many people we could marry which would still work to further God’s plan. So, back to what if I’d ended up without Erin in my life.
Last night I was looking through a bunch of church photos I’d taken for a friend. I went back to when I started taking pictures of church events, in 2002. I had over 11,000 pictures, yeah, around eleven thousand six hundred, and I skimmed through them all. Here’s the conclusion I came to.
What if I hadn’t married Erin? God would still have worked his plan through me in some way. But, I wouldn’t be anything close to the person I am.
I wouldn’t have been an integral part in the heart of St. Matthew’s, and the youth group. I wouldn’t have gotten back in touch with the joy that comes from being a kid. I also wouldn’t have been able to really help people through their own problems because of the hard times in my own life. I also wouldn’t have discovered my love for public speaking, writing, and being funny (well, I think I’m funny anyway, I think Erin disagrees :) ).
More than anything I realize God brought me to Erin to give me relationships. I was almost in teams, and outright laughter going through them and thinking about each individual and each situation.
- About the my first (and second, and third and…) 30 Hour Famine and the teens there
- About my first CreationFest, and getting to be exhausted and weird
- Creating three 40 foot banana splits
- Being thrown into a huge pit of mud and pummeled on by kids
- Learning what Zombie Tag is, and getting bruised and burnt from it
- Learning to talk openly about God
- Getting to take part in the life outside of church of teens, including friendships and relationships
- Getting to hear “you’re amazing” and getting to unashamedly tell that to others
- Getting to publicly talk at a high school event, and see the kids minds click in understanding
There are hundreds of reasons, both with teens and adults, whole lives have touched me. In looking at the pictures and talking to others I’m finding that I’ve gotten to be an example for God as well.
Sure, God would have made some of that happen in my “what if” scenario, but this life is more than I could ever hope for.
I have no idea what is coming in the future, but no matter the decisions I make, so long as I’m keeping God in mind I will have some exciting and moving times ahead.
For now, I’ll continue to try not to ask “what if”. The only What If worth asking is:
What if I focused on what God has in store for me, instead of wondering what I messed up (or could have done better) in the past?
What if all of us let go of the mistakes of our past and focused on each and every moment we have right now?