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Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Your Dying Spouse 13 - If Only

Today we're linking up with Wedded Wednesday at Messy Marriage, so please visit for some really good marriage tips!

We're linked to The Weekend Brew, as well.

We're also linked with Karen Beth on Tuesdays@Ten. Please drop by her site for some other takes on the keyword for the week...

If Only.

They're the two biggest happiness-killers in the language.

If only I'd worked harder to help her quit smoking.

If only I'd encouraged him to eat better.

If only he hadn't ignored the symptoms until it was too late to change things.

If only I'd been more patient with her when she was in so much pain, and so needy.

If only he wasn't such a macho jerk, and would accept my help with grace! (That describes me.)

If only things were different.

But they're not.

The life you are living, today, is the only one you have, and none of the If Onlys is going to change anything.

A sneaky excuse I've used to justify them is that they'll act as a spur to better actions and thoughts in the future, but an excuse is what it is. You don't need to invoke the self-flagellation of vain regret to do better.

And in the end, that's what If Only really is, a hair shirt that we put on because it feels good to feel bad. It feels virtuous to feel guilty over our imperfections.

And often, we hope that someone will come riding to the rescue, noticing that we're down in the mouth, and make us feel better about ourselves.

Nasty...but wait, as they say on the informercials, THERE'S MORE!

If Only invalidates what's good in the present, and, truly, everything down stream from the moment "I would have changed".

No one wants cancer, or heart problems, or anything like that. But the challenge, indeed the requirement for both caregiver and patient, is to make the best of the moment at hand...

...and to value the good moments that have passed, even those spent in illness.

Two of those are sitting at my feet as I write. Their names are Josie and Reebok, and they are The Rhodesian Ridgeback Sisters. (Reebok has sneaker-white feet, in case you were wondering.)

If I were not ill, they would be dead. They were saved in the last moments of their lives, precisely because I was not at work, because I was too ill, by then, to hold a job.

Not only does If Only attend to the impossibility of turning back the clock, it is a slap in the face to the survival of these gentle dogs that love us.

It's mathematical, really.

If Only = Ingratitude.

26 comments:

  1. Oh yes, Andrew!! I never thought about it that way; but...

    IF ONLY = INGRATITUDE!! How true this is...GOD MUST THINK US VERY UNGRATEFUL when we think "If Only" this or that! And, what must our family and friends think?!

    As always, your words inspire! Praying with you and your wife...thank you for using your time and words to inspire!

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    1. Thank you so much, Barbara. I try to look on each day as a gift...it may hurt, but I certainly can find joy in the places between, if I but look for it.

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    1. Thanks! I got cured, pretty much, of the If Onlys by the dog rescue thing. Every major decision that I would have changed would have consigned my furry pals to a brutal death. It seems wrong to negate love so pure and so unselfish, like that.

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  3. Sadly, I have been tempted to say 'if only' so often...

    If only I had realized much earlier that 'if only' is ingratitude.:-)

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  4. If only....i had known you years ago.....the wonderful time we could have talking airplanes and contemplating your "109" restoration...a shared interest.

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    1. Hey Terry, thank you...just back online as of yesterday after being without email (and very ill) for a few months.

      The 109 continues, very slowly. I will not give up.

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  5. 100% agree. You can't do the If Only thing.

    For anyone going through sickness, chronic illness or any type of tragedy I think it becomes very apparent as a matter of survival (maybe for the mind mostly but also physical) that you have to live in the hear and now. You can't hope for what you had yesterday; you can pray for tomorrow, but you have to make the life you have today the best you can.

    To me, this is exactly what Paul and James are talking about when they speak of Joy. It is regardless of circumstances. They see Joy in everything because God is everywhere. It comes down to the condition of our heart.

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    1. It comes down to the condition of our heart...perfect, Kim!

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  6. Another one is, "I wish . . ." and they are so easy to turn to when we should be looking at what we can change and be grateful for. Those words keep us locked in a "victim mentality" and make us "helpless" to move forward. Again, your wisdom, Andrew, is greatly appreciated!

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    1. Great point about "I wish", Beth. In marriage, "you were" is often appended to it, and the four worst words you can tell someone you're supposed to love are "I wish you were..."

      Thanks for being here!

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  7. Wow, Andrew. You pegged this one perfectly. And unfortunately, I've fallen into the If Only mindset. I never thought about those two words as what they are: ingratitude. I so appreciate the truths you spell out in this post. Thank you for the reminder to shift my thoughts from regret to purposefully looking for the good in my days. I need this reminder. That's a much better place for my thoughts and intentions to be anyway.

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    1. Don't be hard on yourself, Jeanne...it's so easy to do, and only when we look over the "if only" landscape, from a different perspective, can we generally see the wasteland it really is.

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  8. I have so many "if only" regrets. But yeah, God says, "If only you'll trust me."

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    1. And He never, ever retracts that offer. Great addition, Shelli...thanks!

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  9. I've never thought of the "if only's" this way. Great insight!

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    1. Thank you so much, Marie...hope you're feeling better?

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  10. I've never thought of the "if only's" this way. Great insight!

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  11. I've never thought of the "if only's" this way. Great insight!

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  12. It's hard to live in the present when you're busy trying to change the past or wallowing in regrets! I've never thought about it as being ingratitude, but I think you're on to something there!

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    1. It can be so easy to focus on the negative aspects of a choice, since that decision was generally somewhat one-dimensional in the full context of life. I did that for many, many years.

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  13. Thankful I have today to not make "if only" regrets. Everyone has regrets but we can chose not to live in them by building on enjoying what God's brings our way, letting even the trials be stepping stones to reminds us life is short so just go for a little adventure of enjoying it. Good post.

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    1. Thanks, Betty. I'm glad you're here, and I like the image of trials as stepping stones. That one will go up on my refrigerator.

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  14. Truly an eye opening post. I say "if only" way too much in my life. I want to always be thankful, no matter I'm going through.

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