‘What If’ and ‘If Only’

“Kids, get to bed!”

I gave an exasperated look to David showing my frustration of why our then elementary school aged kids were not going to sleep upstairs. It was well past their bedtime.

Their voices became louder.

That was it. I got up and was ready to march upstairs and give them a piece of “Don’t mess with Momma Jill” until I heard…

“She is going to live with Jack and me in an RV, got it?!?!”

Jim pounded the ground in his frustration and said, “No! She is living with me and my wife!”

“What is this all about?” I looked bewildered as my kids were outside their bedroom doors having a pow-wow.

Kendall with tears in her eyes said, “When you and Dad die, Jack and I are going to take care of Sarah. We are going to buy an RV and travel around the country.”

Jim piped in, “I’m the oldest and I say she will live with me and my wife. I’m going to build a house for her in my backyard.”

Bless their hearts!

I thanked them for loving their sister so much, but this was something we don’t need to decide now. After I got them all in bed, tears filled my eyes as I thought this was heavy on their minds, too.

Linda Dillow in her book “Calm My Anxious Heart” speaks about the spiritual diseases, ‘What if’ and ‘If Only’.

Do you know there are spiritual diseases?  Two of the deadliest are the “if” diseases, What If and If Only.  These illnesses are fraternal twins, alike but not alike.  Both lack the eyes of faith.  What If looks to the future and worries about what God might allow.  If Only looks into the past and grumbles about what God has given.  The first leads to anxiety, the second to anger.” (page 150)

I have to admit that I have invited both of these twins over to my heart and mind and let them stay longer than they should!

The ‘What If’ likes to prey on my thoughts of when I might not be able to care for Sarah. Who will take care of her? Is it fair, that while my kids are willing to care for her, that they should have to take on that burden? Will she be safe if placed in a facility?

The ‘If Only’ entertains my thoughts of what life would have been like if Sarah did not have Autism. There is an isolation that comes from this journey. Limitations, sacrifices made. You can let your mind dream of how you think life should be.

Both are dangerous and as Linda Dillow points out, deadly.

Do I believe God is sovereign? Do I believe God is good? Do I believe He loves me and Sarah? YES!! With my whole heart, yes! Then my answer to these questions ends the conversation, my little get together, with ‘What If’ and ‘If Only’, and I show them the door.  While they can knock on the door of my heart, I do not have to answer it or let them in. I have the choice.

They cannot change my circumstances only my attitude. They steal my joy and peace and give me anxiety and discontent in return. No thank you! They are certainly no friends of mine!

Isaiah 52:13b, “for the Lord will go before you, the God of Israel will be your rear guard.”

He guards me from my past, the ‘If Only’ disease, and protects me from the ‘What If’ disease as I walk ahead.

He is the immunization to both! Praise Him!


8 thoughts on “‘What If’ and ‘If Only’

  1. Carol Butler

    Dear Jill, I remember several years ago, when your other 3 children talked about taking care of Sarah. Yes, I am sure that this weighs on all of your minds. Thank goodness God is able and willing to provide, when we have no idea what to say or do. I felt that way at times with Uncle Paul and wondered what if I couldn’t take care of him. My prayer was that I could keep him at home with me/. God heard and answered my prayer. May you know that I pray for you daily. God brings your family to my mind. Sarah is God’s perfect child, and He knows what is best!
    Love, Aunt Carol

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