What if... I had not been drinking, or using those drugs?
What if... I had not spoken those words?
What if... I had not acted that way?
We've all said or thought the words, "what if." What if we had not done this or that? Have we given thought to what those words represent or the effect they had on our life?
Surely the answer we could give to any of those "what if" questions would reveal an entirely different outcome to the negative memories that loom so heavy over our head. Yet we cannot undo what has been done. But if we are wise we can learn from our mistakes so as to not repeat them.
In Scripture we read, "The simple believeth every word: but the prudent man looketh well to his going" (Proverbs 14:15). The Apostle Paul not only looked and studied his experiences he went even further. He said, "... I exercise myself, to have always a conscience void of offence toward God, and toward men" (Acts 24:16). He exercised. He worked at it. He didn't want to have those nagging regrets whether or not he was in the presence of the Almighty God-or just another man. Having good memories and a good conscience was worth his work and daily exercise.
There are two sides to the coin. We can be a simpleton, "doing our own thing" and continue reaping the guilt and memories of negative "what ifs". Or, like Paul, we can consider the flip side of the coin. We can choose to consider our ways to be prudent-to exercise ourselves in doing good-in having a clear conscience. When we do, we may begin having positive memories when we think of, "what if?" Such as the following:
What if... I had not slowed down when I realized I was getting heavy on the pedal? I saved myself a $150.00 in fines, or maybe a bad accident.
What if... I had not purposed to NOT defile myself and damage my future reputation by indulging in drinking or drugs? Instead, I have the respect of all who know me.
What if... I had not asked God to give me grace to answer wisely-even when I was accused wrongly? Now by my actions everyone knows that what the person said is untrue.
What if... I had not remembered my own failures in the past and had not chose to overlook theirs? I would have made them look worse and would have made myself look like a prideful fool.
What if... I had not offered the fellow worker a ride to work. I would have missed the opportunity to encourage him when he was so depressed.
What if... I had not stopped to help that stranded motorist. Maybe next time it might have been me.
We could go on. There will always be "what if's" in our mind as we allow our thoughts to ponder them. But if we take time to think about each circumstance—learn from our past mistakes—and make the necessary choices in our everyday thoughts, motives, words, and deeds, then, we can begin to enjoy rather than dread our remembering those, "what if's!"