Wednesday, November 2, 2016

When You Would.

Would has been the most difficult of these three words to wrap my mind around. While should and could definitely haunt me from time to time, would is often my fallback, the word easiest to use when I am feeling a little guilty over things in life I haven't done, events I have not participated in, or ambitions I left lying in the past.

When I first started playing around with the idea of blogging about these three words, my husband and I also started brainstorming a bit about a book. We even came up with a byline! Should, Could and Would: Learning to Live Free from Obligation, Regret, and Excuses. Sounds awesome, right? I want to live that way... until something hard comes up, and I'd rather find a really good reason to not participate, to spend my energy on myself, or do something else that seems more beneficial.

Diving right in here, take a minute to think about the full sentences you use with would.

I would have come to your event...

I would have brought them a meal...

I would have pursued that career...

In my life, would usually precedes the word but, and it's often used with an excuse. Don't get me wrong, sometimes your excuse might actually be a legitimate reason, but if you are using would regularly, there are probably some unresolved issues lingering in your heart and mind.

What I am seeing more clearly about would is helping me feel more grounded in my decisions. I have to come full circle again when I am wrestling with would and ask myself several questions to reach the heart of the issue. Did I really want to? Was I actually able to? Can I do something about it now?

For instance, your friend has a family crisis and someone sets up a meal-schedule to help them out. It's a crazy week for you and you end up missing out on being a meal-bearer that week. Before anyone questions your lack of participation, you are making excuses and giving reasons in your mind, and while it's all very understandable and legitimate, you are still struggling with guilt.  Here is one way I've found to get my heart and mind to a better place.

Did I really want to bring them a meal? Yes.

Was I able to bring them a meal? No. (insert the fact that many women might struggle with feeling guilty over it at this point)

Can I do something about it now? Yes!

If you are feeling torn up about what you were unable to do, take action now! It's never too late to call, email, or text and tell your friend you were unable to help a week or so ago, but are ready to help now. In fact, many people facing sudden crisis actually feel a bit lost and forgotten weeks after an incident, so a two-week-late response might be the timeliest act of love.

Let's use another example. If you are feeling would poking and prodding you about a missed opportunity, these questions can help you analyze if that opportunity is really gone forever or is as important as you think. For instance, I go through seasons of struggling with regret over not cultivating the artistic side of my life, specifically, learning how to paint. I took classes throughout my schooling years, but never did much beyond that. I long to do it, but somehow I just never seem to make it happen. So, I ask...

Do I really want to pursue being a painter? Maybe. I think so, someday?

Was I able to pursue it at one point? Yes.

Can I do something about it now? Yes!

I may not have the same opportunity as before, but answering these questions helps me see how much of a priority this really is, similar to the way we handled should.

What has really bothers me about dealing with would is the fact that I have to face the realities of my own laziness. Many of the things I feel frustrated about when I'm using the word would are things I kind of want, but not enough to do the hard work required. It's difficult to be that honest with myself, and I'm not exactly sure how to deal with these realities. Some pursuits are shallow, born out of a fleeting desire to find fame or fortune (more or less) and it's easy to see why they die on the side of the road. But other pursuits that are more worthwhile, endeavors I find good reasons to work toward, still find themselves being passed by because I am too lazy, too busy, or too tired to move forward with them.

Would is where I find myself at genuine crossroads. It's time to decide, to move forward, and to take action toward the goals I want to pursue. To be done with would is to make a choice and follow through. Would is where I feel paralyzed, afraid, and wondering if what I am doing is making any sense to the One who designed me. The only way I can move past these anxieties and unknown troubles is to trust in God's plan completely.

In order to take take action on the things we sit and think about, we have to know what we are doing is good and right. We have to trust that God uses even our mistakes and problems to eventually bring glory to Himself and allow us to know Him more deeply. Instead of simply thinking about what we would do, we need to consider what God desires. We can ask ourselves if pursuing specific endeavors are a pursuit of God or a pursuit of self. We can stop looking at what we would have done and instead look toward what we are able to do, seeking His will instead of our own. Then we have to get going. There's no getting around that - trust me, I'm an expert at planning, planning, planning, then avoiding, forgetting, and missing out, and it is not the better option.

As I make more and more effort to stop living with should, could, and would pestering me, I am finding more parts of myself I don't exactly like, or habits that are kind of shameful. But if I can turn all these shoulds, coulds, and woulds into reasons to look for God's will in my life, I receive His peace, His forgiveness, and His power to live free from obligation, guilt, and regret. I'm no longer looking to justify my actions, but seeing His glorious plans unfold in my life and the lives of those around me. The less amazing parts of me are shadowed by God's goodness showing up in unexpected places and I can see the progress He's made in perfecting me slowly.

This is what it means to get rid of should, could, and would. We take our eyes off ourselves, our plans, our abilities, and seek out the Creator.

What do I want? To know God and make Him known.

Can I do that? Only by His power.

Will I do that? Only by His faithful grace.

He promises we have all we need to walk uprightly, according to His will. Take Him up on that offer, dare Him to change and move you. I won't lie, it will be painful to rid of your fleshly desires and trade them for God's plans, but when you find yourself facing the day you were made for, the day you enter eternity, it will definitely have been worthwhile.

I hope these posts have been a good mix of practical and philosophical. It's important to think about the way we act, make decisions, and think, but it's also important to get to the actual doing. If you have any encouragement, questions, feedback, or other insights, I'd love to hear them! Feel free to comment here or email me directly. Maybe someday, I can sort this out enough for a book, but for now I pray that these posts are a small blessing to encourage you in your daily striving. Thanks for sticking with me and being patient :)

1 comment:

  1. So good! My favorite part is:

    What do I want? To know God and make Him known.

    Can I do that? Only by His power.

    Will I do that? Only by His faithful grace.