Dealing with the “What Ifs”

Some days I wish the whole world would just go away and let me have my moment of doubt, of weakness.
In solitude.
With no audience.
With no questions.
With no arguing.
With no what ifs clanging around like so many cymbals in my head.
It’s those what ifs that really trip me up.

I think we all have a vulnerable point. Right?
Our fatal flaw.
Our downfall.
The thing that makes our brave words fall on the shell of an empty, fearful heart.
The thing that brings us low and small.
The thing that makes us question just about everything there is in the world to question.
The thing that always seems to make us want to run, but sadly there just isn’t anywhere to run.
The thing that makes our hearts cry buckets and our souls grieve sadness.
The thing that causes our hope to falter and fail a little.. or a lot.
The thing that shames us because we know in our heads but our hearts refuse to follow.
The thing that the enemy uses to push us down and roll us like a tumbleweed through the dry and lonely desert.
The thing that squelches our joy.

I’ll be honest. Mine is fear.
Yep, I said it out loud.
Fear.

It’s been my weakest point since forever.
Paralyzing, portentous, irrational.
So irrational in fact, that I’m afraid to talk about the things I’m afraid of. I put on a brave face and I spew out brave words, but when you get down to the nitty gritty, I’m no better than the Cowardly Lion from The Wizard of Oz.

(Yes, today I’m a hot mess.)

And the biggest fears are the ones spinning around in my head. The ones that come from watching too much TV or reading too many thrillers, which ironically, I don’t really do. My imagination does this all on its own. It has a teeny tiny trigger and then BAM! Look what I can do! The ones that never happen are the ones that paralyze me. The what ifs.

How many moments are stolen by this byproduct of fear?
How many moments are missed because I was caught in a what if and not in the moment before me–the piece of time I was standing upon and within?
How many smiles and kindnesses and happy sounds go unobserved into the atmosphere because I was what if-ing my life to pieces?
And how often in the process of what if-ing my life to pieces does my life actually go to pieces?

I do this – a lot. I have Plan A, Plan B, Plan C, and depending on the circumstance, Plans D, E, and F as well.
I want to have all my ducks in a row and all my pieces on the table all the time. When they go missing, I get anxious.. and fearful.

I confess.
I may have a slight control issue.
It’s laughable, I know, but it’s only slight.

There’s no reasoning to what ifs. There’s no rationale to fear. There’s just straight out battle. Warfare.
And how do I battle shadows?
How do I slay dragons that don’t exist?
How do I make the demons flee and tremble?

How do I make the knot, the one that grows in the pit of my stomach and weighs my feet down just like my spirit so I can’t move to the light, go away?
How do I give up control so that Jesus can take control?

I am brought up a bit sad and low when I think of what all my what if-ing does.
I have pushed God’s sovereignty right out the door and then locked it up tight behind Him. I have made my fears my idols and my what-ifs my offerings to a god that can never free me, never save me, never forgive me, never redeem me, and never heal me. And the One who can patiently waits out my what if-ing because He knows. He knows I will grow weary of trying to outwit, outlast, and outplay the world. He knows my heart will turn back before my mind will.

Because all of my well laid plans, all of my what if-ing, all of my strategies are illusions that needs only the smallest of life’s breezes to collapse.

The Lord wants my what if-ing. He wants my plans. He wants my fears. Because what He really wants is my heart. All the nooks and crannies where unsavory things hide and lay waiting, where my fears lurk unchecked, and my what-ifs take up residence. He wants the whole ugly-beautiful mess. So He can take that and offer me peace.

And with peace comes the security of knowing His love for me is greater than my very best what if. That His provision and protection and divine interceding is more potent than my worst fear. And in Him there can be no darkness. In Him there can be no fear. Whom have I to fear because God is for me and if God is for me, who can be against me. I have been redeemed and freed from a life of slavery–slavery to a slippery master, slavery to fear, slavery to what ifs.

What if instead of spending my moments being afraid or what if-ing my moments away, I spent them pressing into Him, trusting that He will be with me whatever I face. What if I held up my hands and surrendered my filthy, dirty, holey rags completely and fully to Him. What if I bravely gave Him all the fears I’m trying to out plan and let Him plan my road? Because what I’m really doing when I cling so tightly to my fears and my what ifs is leaving God out.
I’m choosing fear instead of faith. Anxiety instead of love. Control instead of surrender.

And this is the battle. This is how I slay my invisible, too real dragons and this is how I make the demons flee and tremble and this is how I make the shadows turn to light:

I speak Truth even when I cannot feel Truth. I claim Truth even when my heart feels differently and hurts. I cling with all my might and with all my weakness to the One who has promised He will never leave me and He will never forsake me even when I’m paralyzed and can’t do, can’t believe anything else. I choose Jesus. I claim Jesus. I speak the name of Jesus.

Because if God is who He says He is, then He will do what He has promised to do. And if I claim Jesus, and keep claiming Jesus, in the middle of my darkness then the darkness will turn to light. Oh, I might not feel it, but it will happen. If I claim God’s sovereignty and provision in the midst of my what if-ing, then suddenly the need for the what ifs seems empty, wispy, insubstantial. Because what do my what ifs matter in the presence of an All Powerful, Almighty, All Knowing God? They don’t. God is more concerned with my heart than my what-ifs. He’s more concerned with the state of my soul than the state of my imagined fears.

I know this sounds simple but simple is usually never easy. But simple is always better.
God made everything about having a relationship with Him simple, just not always easy. But relationships can only exist, can only grow if there’s trust.
And if there’s fear, there’s no trust, and without trust there’s a compromised relationship.
If I want to battle my what if-ing, my fears, I have to choose more of Jesus. I have to choose to be overwhelmed by Jesus and not by fear.
I have to choose faith instead of fear and love instead of worry and surrender instead of control. It won’t happen in a day.
But it starts with a small choice: to confront the what if, to catch it and take it captive in Jesus’ name, to cover it with love and grace and watch Him transform fear into faith, that’s the road. That’s the choice. That’s the battle.

And that’s the victory.

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