Last week, my husband, Jeff, and I attended the funeral of a dear friend who died unexpectedly. During her Celebration of Life ceremony and the montage of photographs that illustrated a life well-lived, service to others, treasured friendships, and family memories, it reminded me of a recent conversation with a colleague who prefaced their life’s ambitions with, “only if.”
The conversation went something like, “I would love to travel, only if I were to win the lottery. I’m sure you have heard this comment made by family and friends, too. It’s a phrase so frustrating to hear. Only if...the stars were in perfect alignment; I was more successful; I had a bigger house; I wore the latest name-brand labels; or I drove the right kind of car.
Striving to live in the land of “only if” is an imaginary, distant, and isolated island. Think of it as a magical and mystical place, sheltered behind misty, grey clouds. It will evade your approach. Your feet will never step on its sandy shores. You will waste precious time on this earth searching and waiting for “only if.”
Find peace, and assurance in who you are – the perfect person God made you be, already equipped with talents to be discovered and used for His glory. If only we controlled our time on this earth, but we don’t.
You are what you do, not what you say you will do.
“If you only love the lovable, do you expect a pat on the back? Run-of-the-mill sinners do that. If you only help those who help you, do you expect a medal? Garden-variety sinners do that. If you only give for what you hope to get out of it, do you think that’s charity? The stingiest of pawnbrokers do that. I tell you, love your enemies. Help and give without expecting a return. You’ll never - I promise - regret it. Live out this God-created identity the way our Father lives toward us, generously and graciously, even when we’re at our worst. Our Father is kind; you be kind. Don’t pick on people, jump on their failures, criticize their faults - unless, of course, you want the same treatment. Don’t condemn those who are down; that hardness can boomerang. Be easy on people; you’ll find life a lot easier. Give away your life; you’ll find life given back, but not merely given back - given back with bonus and blessing. Giving, not getting, is the way. Generosity begets generosity.” ~ Luke 6:32-38.
Actions, not words, define us. Avoid hanging hopes and dreams on conditional requirements that are prefaced by “only if;” it will prevent you from living a fulfilling and purpose-driven life. Learn to live in the present moment, for each day is truly a gift.
About Katie Hart Smith
“Words, written or spoken, have power.” Katie Hart Smith’s column, “From the Heart,” touches the heart, inspires, entertains, and speaks to one’s heart and soul. Her historical fiction novels Hope Never Rests and Aspirations of the Heart, have been placed in the Georgia Governor’s Mansion Library. To learn more about this Southern author, visit www.katiehartsmith.com.