Tuesday, September 24, 2013

the what dids vs. the what ifs

there are times in our lives when we have to leave the past in the past and press forward. it's easy to think through the what ifs and if we are all honest, we all have them. especially when thinks don't work out, you think what if i had gone that direction or what if i didn't make that stupid mistake and then you wonder where you would be today. but we all know that can be one big mess to do that 'cause really, you can't change the past.

but i do believe there are times that it is appropriate and look back. instead of looking at the what ifs, looking at the what dids - the things that did happen. this is probably why i am the biggest advocate for journaling or documenting life (i.e. photography, blogging etc.). personally it is through my journals, those times where i took a piece of the present and captured it into black and white, words scribbled in happiness or sadness or frustration - without hesitation and with rawness of my emotions.

and i have found looking back through past entries, i am brought back to places of hardships and rejoicing and can see them come together in a way that i have never been able to see them before. when i look back, instead of seeing fragments or one mass of a mess, i see something beautiful and orchestrated by the God who i believe has an infinite, detailed plan for my life.

i was reminded of this when i was sharing with a friend what God has been doing in my life - and as i told her the bits and the pieces, i remember in my looking back that God had a purpose for every single moment of that season. it was a season of heartache and disappointment, yet without that season, i would not be the person that i am today.

as the cycle of seasons go, one season passes and here comes another. presently, i am in a whole different season of waiting than i was last year. and waiting really is never fun. like...

...waiting for a doctor's appointment, you just want to get your diagnosis and be walking out the door.
...or while at line at the Mickey-dee's drive thru, you just want your order of large fries and vanilla cone/
...or salivating over that banana bread you just threw in the oven, wishing the delish piece of goodness would be done already

(ha! do you love that i had two food examples in a row! me and mah belly, i tell ya.)

but as we wait (i'm telling this to myself as much as i am telling you, friend), i'm learning to look back at your life and reflect on those moments where God did show up...where God turned something bad into some beyond good...where He made you stronger to prepare you for the season you are in. i think the great philosopher, Kelly Clarkson had a point in that stronger song: what doesn't kill you makes you stronger. 

point made.

so take a look back at the what dids, instead of the what ifs. there have been times that i read back to an old journal entry and could not believe that i missed out on God's presence in that moment. i look back now and see what He was doing then in my life. He was so loud and obvious but i was so wrapped up in my circumstance that i could not even identify His hand in the process.

let's not miss out. so look back for comfort in the present and the future. you might be surprised.

much love.
{happy wednesday, friend.}


  1. Prophetic!prophetic! I am entering such an unclear season in my life right now. I need help to embrace it.

  2. It's so refreshing to read about my pal Jesus around the blogosphere! what a nice reminder, to wait. thanks for that:)

  3. Another period of waiting for you, my friend? We need to catch up soon!

  4. I have a hard time not looking to the past or future.I need to do better at living in the present.

  5. So refrshing and so beautiful. I will start looking at my what dids from now on. Thank you, sweetie.

  6. I don't think it is coincidence that I pulled up your blog this morning Illy! More proof that Jesus has purpose behind everything. I woke up this morning after hard dreams about past jobs that I've had. The past several years for me have been filled with bad jobs, bad bosses, and a lot of financial struggle. I became discouraged this morning reflecting on all of that and on my current job which doesn't seem to have much purpose. I went straight to the what if's. What if I had gotten that teaching job in 2009? What if I hadn't gotten let go in 2010? What if I hadn't had my director's son in my preschool class which torched her opinion of me because her son had a ton of behavior problems? What if I had stuck it out instead of fleeing to another job which turned out to be worse? What if, what if... But I am very encouraged by your words. This is something people (women especially) need do more of. Looking at the present and the what did's. Thanks for your encouragement.

  7. this is such a beautiful post and message friend! i can't wait for our phone date tonight! :)

    Sandy a la Mode

  8. I love when you do posts like this, Illy! This is so true. I also am a journal keeper/memory keeper... or whatever you put it as!


  9. I wrote one of my most introspective posts about this VERY topic, "The What Ifs". Here is the link to my take on beating the What Ifs.


    Man, do I hear ya on this one!

  10. Such a beautiful post! As I get older, I find it easier to look at the "what dids" and take comfort in how everything has turned out. I'm also trying to live more in the present. It's a test, but worth it. :)

  11. This is a BRILLIANT perspective. I've been looking back at my life and not thinking about the "what if's," but rather the journey that has brought me to where I am today. I so agree with you, regrets are not worth our time, but God is and His plans and our journeys with Him are. Does that make sense?

    Anyway, just wanted to tell you that I loved this post and love how you shine His light through your blog. I love and admire it! :)

  12. Your photo for this post is fantastic. The lighting is a little dim, but you look so happy that the contrast makes you the star. Plus it's nice to see just one photo, because that makes a bigger statement than a whole slew of them.
    Goodness, you spoke my exact sentiments on why keeping a diary does so much for you, especially concerning seeing how God works. It's how we see everything being strung together. I'm saying yes to every bit of this post!

  13. I find that if I am feeling down, reading old blog entries and looking at my photos cheers me up so much. You're right, concentrating on "what dids" ... and therefore cultivating gratitude brings so many more blessings and a lot more happiness.


  14. love this post!
    I can definitely relate to it. God is definitely working in your heart! :)

  15. this is amazing! And i totally agree with journaling, blogging, photography to capture life's moments. When I get stuck in the anxieties of a rough season, it is so encouraging to go "back in time" a bit and read page after page of journaled moments when God was faithful and working in my life. It's such a beautiful moment to see God teaching you through your younger self's experiences (humbling too!!). I am so glad I found ya through Kiki's blog, In It's Time!

    Elle Alice

  16. you are always such an encouragement to those around you girl! keep doing what your doing!


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