If Only

by César De León PhD LMFT, Ministerial Director for the North Pacific Union Conference

The novelty of doing life and work from home is wearing out and many are wondering how much longer can we continue living like this? When is this situation going to end? No matter how flexible and patient you’ve been so far; If you are honest with yourself, most likely you are feeling a little exhausted from the different life you’ve been forced to live because of the pandemic.

Maybe you find yourself doing; “if onlying,” “If only I didn’t have to keep using protective mask whenever I go out.”  “If only I could travel and go freely where I used to go.”  “If only I could hang out with my friends again.” “If only I could live free from the worry of possibly getting infected.”  We could continue the long list of “if onlys,” however, this mental exercise would only leave us sadder and emotionally wasted.

I remember when my sons were born, I thought, “If only I can live until they are old enough to fend for themselves.” When they grew up and could fend for themselves, I thought, “If only I could be alive and see them graduate from high school”.  Now that they are college graduates I say, “If only I could see them married.”  I’m pretty sure that when they get married, I’m going to say, “If only I could get to see my grandchildren.”  When the Lord grant me the pleasure and blessing to meet my grandchildren, I’m going to say, “If only I could see them graduate from high school.” Well, I think you got the point, the truth is that the “if only’s” never really end. They never end because some of us have lived our life totally focused on a future that is jam-packed with anxieties, fears and perhaps wishes that are out of our control.  Inadvertently we may have missed the simple joy experienced when one is fully present to the daily miracles instead of being consumed by the worries and anxieties of an unforeseen future. 

The pandemic has come to challenge us to think and act differently and to focus on the “here and now”, perhaps because we have an enemy at the gates that has made us more aware of those things that we were doing automatic and sometimes by proxy.  This routine is now gone. Maybe like me, you are lamenting the fact that we didn’t enjoy those things that we once had widely available to and didn’t take advantage of.

The Bible states, “Everything that happens in this world happens at the time God chooses.He sets the time for birth and the time for death, the time for planting and the time for pulling up, the time for killing and the time for healing, the time for tearing down and the time for building. He sets the time for sorrow and the time for joy, the time for mourning and the time for dancing. (Ecclesiastes 3:1-4). 

Solomon is reminding us that we should be aware of the factor “time” and the fact that time comes in the form of seasons, and fully embracing every season and living with the appreciation for what is –not what I wish it were; actually help us live richer lives. Each season, the ups and downs, all come together to weave the tapestry of what we call “life”.   

So, I am challenging you as I have challenged myself, to stop wasting precious life energy on “if only-ing.” I challenge you to seek to live fully aware that “time” is in God’s hands, and with this, I invite you to embrace the gifts and opportunities in the here and now. I want to challenge you to make yourself available to be used as a blessing wherever you are. Jesus told us: “For whosoever wants to save his life, will lose it; and whoever loses his life because of me will find it.” (Matt. 16:25,26). I invite you to join me in asking God to daily open our eyes and hearts so we can seize the many opportunities we are granted to benefit others in the seemingly mundane minutes in our lives. An unknown author wrote: “If only our eyes saw souls instead of bodies, how different our ideals of beauty would be.” Today is a great day to appreciate the fact that we exist and have the ability to appreciate the existence of others around us, no matter how they look like.

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