Have you ever found yourself saying this, or even thinking it to yourself? Unfortunately I find I do it far too often. It usually occurs when dwelling on something in the present, be it a bad decision I've made or a difficult circumstance I'm facing. Sometimes it's even caused by others. A few weeks ago I'll admit that I went through a really rough time when someone offered me the prayer that I would find a wife soon, with the explanation that my ministry would be far more fruitful if I did. Seriously, those were almost the exact words. Sadly this "prayer" led me to a self-perpetuating battle with doubt over my choices in life so far, the main one being that I have poured so much time into ministry over the years that I've neglected the time needed to fall in love, build a solid relationship, and ultimately get married.
"Why did I ...."
This is another one I often say... and once again it comes during the hard times. Hindsight often offers us a much bigger picture when looking back on past decisions, events, etc; but it becomes easy to forget that we didn't have the benefit of that knowledge at the time, and so sometimes our decisions weren't near as bad as we look back on them to be. I remember a friend of mine recently stepped in to a position he had once volunteered in many years past, discovering that he still enjoyed it. However, after I made it clear that he would be more than welcome to be a regular again, he cautioned that he wanted to spend some time considering the issues that made him resign from the position in the first place instead of just calling it a bad decision at the time. He understood that hindsight is not the be all and end all... our decisions at the time are based on something very different than what we see later on looking back, and sometimes what may not make sense later on down the road really did make perfect sense at the time.
"Thank You for...."
I finally found myself here tonight after a little bit of a battle with my own thoughts and emotions. I'm not saying I haven't been thankful for what God has sent my way; I actually really have been even though things haven't always been the greatest or made sense. However, I know that sometimes I need a kick in the rear end to remember how thankful I really am. Today it came in the form of an evening coffee with an old friend. You know how those evening coffee's can be... it starts with catching up on life, and then the recounting of old stories begin. Suddenly you find yourself where you were a long time ago, and sometimes things suddenly become very clear. Coffee this evening led to me coming home and watching an old snowboard trip video.... 2005 to be precise. Instantly I was transported back to a different stage of life, and instantly things that weren't making sense to me suddenly made sense again. I was reminded that my past decisions were not only based on the circumstances of the time, but on my abiding in a relationship with a mighty God who is beyond time itself.
When I do look back with this attitude of thankfulness, it also becomes self-perpetuating as I am reminded more and more of the blessings God has placed on my life. There have been physical blessings like having had the opportunity to travel to many places, whether it be snowboard trips or conferences, or just holidays with family. There have been relational blessings as well as often happens when you spend your life trying your best (but relying ultimately on God's strength) to care for people. I am so thankful for the many friends I have of all ages as they bring a richness to my life that is beyond sufficient explanation. However, ultimately, I am thankful that God has allowed me to continue to serve Him by serving others. I know I don't always get it right, and in fact I'm convinced I get it wrong more often than not, and yet He still carries me and he still shows undeserved Grace.
When I look back on my life I am thankful, and this allows me to look forward with excitement and joy regarding whatever God has planned for me next.