When things don’t go as planned, most people automatically try to figure out why. Of course, it’s good to evaluate yourself and look for ways to do better next time, but you have to be careful. It’s easy to get stuck in a cycle of overanalyzing, looking where to place the blame, or getting swallowed up in the “whys.” Not only is this heading in the wrong direction, but it opens the door to fear which will ultimately paralyze you.
It certainly doesn’t take long to slip into the “if only” syndrome … If only I had gone to college, or, If only I had married that person,” or, “If only I had qualified for that new home.” But realize today that you can’t move forward if you’re living your life looking backward. You can’t change the past, so why not look forward to where God is taking you? It may look as though you missed something good, but remember, God always has something better in store.
Years ago when Joel and I first got married, we decided to buy a home. We found one that looked perfect for us! It was located on a beautiful lot in a neighborhood with other young families, and it had a swimming pool—something I always wanted! We made the best offer we could and prayed that the owners would accept it. Day after day went by, but we didn’t hear anything. We kept speaking words of faith, declaring, “This is our house!” No one was living in it at the time, so we would drive over to it in the evening and sit outside studying and dream about it. But, unfortunately the homeowners didn’t accept our offer. The door totally closed, and I was so disappointed. In the moment, I thought for sure that was our house! I found myself tempted to say if only we had offered more money. If only we had prayed harder. If only we had acted sooner, on and on. But instead of mourning over what didn’t work out, I made the choice to let it go and believe that God had something better in store.
Right after we heard the news about the house, I found another property that caught my attention. It was an old, run-down house on a beautiful lot in a really nice neighborhood. It was actually abandoned with broken windows, no landscaping, and it even had a scarecrow in the kitchen to keep the animals out! It didn’t look like much, but deep down I believed it was right for us—not based on what made sense in my head, not based on what I thought I wanted, but based on the supernatural peace I had inside. We put a bid on that house, and sure enough, our offer was accepted.
Truthfully, I wasn’t as excited about this house as I was the first one. It didn’t have a swimming pool like I dreamed of; instead, it had crooked floors! The foundation was cracked, and some of the interior doors wouldn’t close. I had to put blocks under my sofa just to keep it from leaning forward. Friends and family used to make jokes about those crooked floors, but I grew to love that house. I knew God gave us that house, so I wasn’t going to look back and focus on what I didn’t get. That house didn’t look like the “perfect” house, but it was the right place for that season.
We lived in that house for three years, and God blessed us beyond our wildest dreams. We ended up dividing our lot and selling half of it for the same price we originally paid for the entire piece of property! We were able to build a new home for less than what we would have paid for the first house we wanted. God used that crooked-floored house to bring us through a journey of faith. That’s where we learned to trust Him and believed that He always knows what’s best, even when we weren’t getting what we thought we wanted. Even though, in the natural, it looked like we were going backward, that time actually helped us move forward spiritually. Our experience with that house gave us courage to trust God in a new way and equipped us for years down the road when we would take a basketball arena and turn it into a magnificent house of worship!
Today, I’m not living in a house with crooked floors. I’m living in a house more beautiful than I ever dreamed we would own, but I’m convinced that if I would have been unhappy over what didn’t work out, my attitude would have kept me from God’s best. Today, if you’re thinking, Life would have been different if only I had this or if only that had happened, let it go. Trust that God is guiding your steps. It may not make a lot of sense right now, but if you’ll let go of those things that didn’t work out and stay in faith, He will take you exactly where you need to be.
“No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead” (Philippians 3:13, NLT).