Tuesday, June 8, 2010

The "if onlies"

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."
                     or even
"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".


  1. Great post and a good warning of the devil's "if only".

    God bless.

  2. I bet you are right about hell! Good post ;)

  3. That last line says it all. I know I have way too many "if onlys." Thank you for sharing dear Mary. Blessings.

  4. I guess some of you are familiar with the "if onlies" already :)

  5. If only I hadn't said "if only" is probably the biggest if only in hell.
    Great post, Mary!

  6. It's taken me quite awhile to accept and appreciate the hard-to-bear aspects of my life. Once I said to God that I accepted His Will as a blessing, He gave me peace. Then I thanked Him for putting me in the box so I wouldn't hurt myself. I also gave up on trying to figure out what God was doing in my life, and accept that someday I will see His purpose. The really hard times have shown me how powerless I am, and, to some extent, erased all the "if onlies" and replaced them with the "Yes, God" attitude.

    The journey has been really painful. Every "if only" temptation is now a moment when I try to say, "Thy will be done." Sometimes it takes awhile to quit fantasizing about the lovely "if only" situation and actually refocus on God and submit to His Will. Those "if onlies" are really a temptation from the devil to rebel against God's will. The overcoming of them is still a work in progress for me.