“If Only…”—Living in the Past

 “No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead” (Philippians 3:13).

I lived in the past, saying, “If only…” or “What if?” I didn’t realise this until the Reverend Elroy Patrick allowed me to see my life in a snapshot by a demonstration he did in service one Sunday.  I personalised the message. 

He used two individuals to hold up the letters I and Y.  The “I” represents me as an individual and the “Y” represents Yaweh (God).  What was standing between I and Y were the letters F O N L.  The letters on their own made no sense but when the cards were put together they created the phrase, “IF ONLY.” I’ve heard this message preached in different ways before but this demonstration brought it home to me.  So I looked within to find some of the, ‘If Only’, statements present in my life and came up with:

  • If only they were in my life teaching me…
  • If only they had not given up their parenting responsibility…
  • If only Mum did not take me out of high school before I was able to do my exams, I would have progressed to teachers college…
  • If only I had returned to Jamaica, earlier, I would have seen my grandma once more before she died…
  • If only I had received the love I craved from my parents, I wouldn’t have had to go looking in all the wrong places and end up latching on to individuals, being used and abused by some…  

My parents weren’t there to protect me from the pain others were inflicting.  Then I realised that the pain I was enduring was causing me to resent my parents because it started with them not being part of my life. That’s where the ‘If only…’ statements began. I had to look within and do a self-assessment. I then realised that it is not about those who inflicted the pain—it’s about me and God.  So everything that was between I and Y (me and God) everything hindering me from having a relationship with God…everything that is non-productive in my life that has been a chain, that’s what has been holding me back.  That represented what has been hindering me from moving forward.

I thought about the letters between the “I” and the “Y” and wondered what they represented on my journey.  I came up with the following:

Fear [I had an unhealthy fear of men because of those who had abused their leadership power in my youthful days];

Obstacles [Everywhere I turned I faced obstacles and after so many hit backs I just wanted to give-in to the oppressors];

Neglect [My parents abandoned me so I felt I wasn’t good enough to be loved by others. I built up a wall of protection, having endured this same neglect from others I looked up to, especially in the church]; and

Lies [I believed the enemies lies that I wasn’t loveable and so I lived a very lonely life].

You too may have your ‘If Only’ moments. They may come at intervals and you may bounce back quickly or they may find you living a less than full-filled life where guilty feelings or shame; resentment or hatred; a feeling of worthlessness from being abandoned or rejected; etc. may cause you to reside in a place of darkness where depression hovers over you. I would like to encourage you to search and hold onto God’s Word for the truth that will set you free (St. John 8:36). It is your hope of release from the enemy’s grip. The enemy’s desire for you and I is that we focus on the things that come between us and God. He does this so that we will have little or no time to focus on and develop our relationship with God.

My aim in sharing my thoughts with you is so that you can recognise and deal with the things that come between you and God. We do have control over the things that comes between us and God. Once we take the time to analyse our lifestyle we will recognise bad habits that we have developed over the years as well as new ones that are being developed. God’s Word will help us to focus our minds on Him and whatever is true, honest, right, lovely and of good report–whatever is praiseworthy–His Word will help us to think on these things (see Philippians 4:8). He will then keep our minds in perfect peace while He completes the work He started in us.

Maybe you too can make your own list of what the letters between I and Y represents in your life and see how God would have you deal with those issues.

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