Last week unpacked the what-if disease when we are worrying about future scenarios and their outcomes. This week we are going to cover the flip side to this idea, the if-only disease. While the what-ifs focus on the future the if-only’s focus on the past. You might be thinking, this has nothing to do with anxiety. But my oh my, how wrong you are. Let’s take a closer look!
Linda Dillows defines the if-only disease as looking to the past and grumbling about what God has given, leading to anger.
Our past intimately influences our future. The two are so connected that it is hard to separate the two. If you were abused as a child, that affects you today. If you were divorced in the past, you are less likely to marry someone else quickly. If you nearly drowned as a child, you may be more fearful of water today. If you were in a car accident, you are timider to get behind the wheel again. You see, our past, our if-only’s, affect our anxiety level today.
If-only’s don’t even have to be in regard to your past. They could be rooted in envy and greed. Think about these:
If-only we had a newer car.
If-only I didn’t have to work.
If-only we didn’t own a business.
If-only I didn’t have this disease.
If-only we didn’t crash our car.
If-only I was prettier.
If-only I had straight/curly/brown/blonde hair.
You see, these if-only’s come in many different shapes and sizes.
We cripple ourselves spiritually by going over and over the if-only’s. We catch the if-only disease when we dwell on what we don’t have instead of on what we do have. We become discontented with what God has given us. When we contract this disease we lose perspective. p. 175
How to Overcome the If-Only Anxiety Disease
Focus on God, not the problem.
When you are focused on the problem, you get irrational. You don’t think clearly. When are you focused on things that happened in the past you can’t clearly think about what’s ahead. Remember the Israelites while wandering through the wilderness? They complained about food and water and wished to be back in Egypt. Today we think they’re nuts as we read that. But how often do we do that same thing when we are mulling over our own if-only’s. Don’t lose perspective, focus on God.
It’s time to stop wishing things in your past were different. It’s time to stop it from influencing who you are today. It’s time to let it all go and live free from it. It’s also time to be content with where you are in life. God gave you the specific role that you have, the possessions and looks that you have. Start feeling blessed for all that He’s given you instead of ungrateful because of what you don’t have.
Peace comes through acceptance. p. 179
Remind yourself of what God has done in the past.
When you are tempted to dwell on the negative things in your life and wishing for things to be different, think about all the amazing things that God has done in your life and throughout the lives of the people in the Bible. Focus on the positives.
We survive the packages of pain God allows in our lives by remembering who God is and what He has done in the past. p. 179
You can’t undo the past, you can’t change many of the things in your life right now. Dreaming about, fretting over the if-only’s only breeds a heart of discontent and one full of anxiety. It truly leads you down a road of anger and unhappiness. I want so much more for you, so does the Lord. Surrender your if-only’s to God today and be set free from your anxieties.