For much of my life I've had a bad case of the "if onlies". Perhaps some of you are familiar with these little termagants. They tend to live with the "then maybes". "If onlies" are spineless little creatures that keep one from being happy. For those of you who are unaware of these wee beasties let me explain their favorite method of attack. It goes something like this:
"Lord, if only I was healthier then maybe I could do more for you."
"If only I was born 100 years ago then maybe I could be holy."
"If only I hadn't committed this or that sin then maybe my life would be easier."
The "if onlies" can attack people of all ages. Even teenagers:
"If only I was prettier then maybe I would be more popular."
"If only I had one of those whatevers then maybe I would be happy."
"If onlies" are insidious little thoughts that harm everyone. They keep us from being content with what the Lord has given us and keep us from progressing spiritually. Here's one that has bitten me a few times:
"If only everyone would turn to God then maybe I could be the saint that you want me to be."
That "if only" is highly problematic. Not based in reality at all. For one thing, we are called to be saints no matter what is going on in the world. For another, it's aiming the blame for my own lack of progress on whether others convert or not. Plus, it's so far from the truth it's laughable. We actually have a greater chance of becoming saints these days than ever before. Surrounded by temptation as we are gives us endless opportunities to overcome faults and sins. Every time we resist what's tossed before us daily is meritorious. We know God's grace is always available... Jesus already overcame the world. Accepting the truth about the world we live in and using it as a means to our own sanctification is a positive step that will bring us closer to Jesus. We should teach our children how to do this, too.
I bet hell is filled with "if onlies".