Hopping Off the ‘What If’ Bus
- Monday, January 02, 2012
It doesn't happen very often, but when it does, it ruins my day. It generally takes place when I am in line at the grocery store, or scrunched between my six kids in the sales aisle searching for the best price on boy's underwear. The scene goes something like this....
I look down and realize that my oldest son has two different shoes on -- a rubber, yellow boot and a brown sandal. My youngest daughter is pulling long, stretchy, strands of gum out of her hair and sticking them to the back of her sister's shirt, who, at the sudden realization, begins protesting (wide-eyed and grossed out) way too loudly.
In the meantime, the wet two-year-old on my hip begins sneezing uncontrollably on account of his weird habit of winding locks of my un-brushed hair around his finger and shoving the ends up his nose. And when I look up at my oldest daughter with my much used "could you help me, please?!!" stare, I realize that she's standing there, frozen -- dead asleep -- eyes open, but snoring.
And that's when "She" walks by. It’s the woman with the perfect hair and the stunning, unwrinkled (Taco-Bell-sauce-free) suit. She strolls by with an easy step without tripping over children or dragging along stragglers by the collar. She has perfect nails, matching shoes, diamond earrings, and lightly holds the keys to her two-seater BMW in her clutter-free hand. She does not have baby wipes or subtraction flash cards poking out of the top of her bag.
She is not in a hurry, she is not frantically searching to get what she came for and then get out before the "screamer" goes off. She seems so free. And on my worst days, I abandon all that I know to be true and follow her in my mind by jumping onto the 'What If…' bus.
I know where the 'What If' bus goes. It travels from, "I Could Have Been" to "If Only", stopping just long enough to tour the supposed highlights of glamorous possibilities that were forsaken when I signed up for Christ and then later said "I Do" to the man that my Heavenly Father brought me.
The "What If…" bus takes me to prestigious colleges, to journalism school, to quiet libraries, to an exciting job in a plush office at a top selling magazine or major newspaper in a busy high rise, or to hot, sandy beaches where my tummy isn't squishy, or 'oogelly googelly" (as my five-year-old coined it). The 'What If…' bus promises to be a tantalizing tour, but when I get back from my little trip I am irritated, impatient, discontent, and sour. It always brings emptiness.
The prince of this world encourages us to covet, to become discontent, and to believe the grass is greener on the other-side by using subtle strokes of "If Only..." He gives glimpses of a leisurely 'good life' that we deserve. How is it that I can so quickly lose sight of what my blessings are, and see them instead as a hindrance or as a small six-by-ten cell? It is a good thing that my husband yanked out the TV antennae because I am way too easily deceived by empty perceptions. The days that I struggle maintaining my focus are, without a doubt, the very worst.
What I fail to remember when I climb those steps onto the "What if…" bus, is that I don't know the ins-and-outs of the lives of those women who I envision as 'free'. Are they happy? Do they lie in bed every night giggling with glee to be where they are in life? Is their life even what I imagine it to be? Probably not. But even if they do have perfectly wonderful lives what would it have to do with the precious life my Father has blessed me with?
One day, a while back, when I was rummaging through a dusty, little, novelty shop, I came across a great poster of a beautiful and unique, full, vibrant flower, which was planted in a plain, brown, cracked pot; the saying written beneath it has become one of my favorites.
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