Wednesday, February 29, 2012

What If?

Have you ever played the "What If?" game?  That's when you wonder "what if" something had been different about some past event.  This is similar to but distinct from "If Only".  The main difference between these two games is that "If Only" usually turns into blaming someone (often oneself) for an event either happening or not happening.  "If only I had been there sooner...If only she hadn't gone to work late today..."  This tends to be an unhealthy way of dealing with grief.  When we do this, we start wallowing and prevent ourselves from moving on. 

Instead of focusing on the event in "What If?", we move on to see what else could be different.  This can help in problem solving and figuring out how to prevent an event from happening in the future.  If we are not careful, however, "What If?" can turn into "If Only" very quick.  The goal is to look at changing something about an event and then to move on and determine what would happen.  My favorite use for "What If?" in this situation is for it to be a mental exercise.  This method was furthered into a game called "Counter-Factuals" in an episode of The Big Bang Theory.

I bring this up because, from time to time, I will play "What If?" with the Bible.  What if Abraham refused God's command to use Isaac as a sacrifice?  What if Jesus stopped Judas from betraying him?  What if someone put out the fire in the burning bush?   Sometimes, by asking myself, "What if things were different," I can get a better grasp on why they aren't.  I invite you to take some time to ask yourself "What If?"  See if it helps you gain some clarity on an issue you are dealing with.  Just be careful to stick with "What If?" and don't give in to "If Only".

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