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How to Overcome the If-only's and What-if's

A Year in the Spiritual Life... Discover Your Purpose: How to Overcome the If-only's and What-if's


How to Overcome the If-only's and What-if's

Photo Credit: Creative Commons

I have a problem. 

I want to write some sweet short story that will describe how I feel right now, or perhaps a scathing tirade on the sanctity of marriage and the heartbreak of divorce, but I cannot bring myself to do it. 


Because my heart is too busy breaking. 

My friend, Darla*, who in the last year has pulled farther and farther away from me, has left her husband, filed for divorce and let her life fall to shambles. Speaking to her husband the other day was painful and sad because I know what that marriage could have been, and now it lies on the edge of ruin. 

Of course, I have no control over her actions, especially since she and I have not been as close as we once were, but this makes me wonder, was I a good friend when we were close? Could I have helped more? 

This kind of thinking can go two ways. 

1. It can lead to a productive self-assessment of my heart and actions and lead me to make positive changes going forward in other relationships or 

2. It can lead to a guilt ridden pity party filled with if only’s. 

So I am going to choose the first option. 


Self-assessment is a critical part of personal growth. We cruise through life with blinders on if we never really examine ourselves. Self-assessment is crucial to figuring out ways in which we can improve our lives and it requires three things: honesty, a light (the Word), and a broom (A contrite heart). 


Call a spade a spade. I was not a good friend to Darla. I was extremely worldly and way too free with my behavior when I was with her. If I were to be honest I can say I was a bad influence at times. We were friends for about four years. For the first year we were good. The second year we began to take on each other’s offences (another post for another day) and instead of applying the word to our lives we began to revert back to pre-Christ attitudes about church, the people at church and all things spiritual. 

This attitude was prevalent for the next few years. Then, about a year ago, I began to walk back to God and she didn't. She told me almost a year ago she was considering leaving her husband. I told her she was going down a wrong path. I reminded her of the Word and I pointed her toward counseling and Jesus. She was not happy with my advice. We grew apart. Soon she wouldn't even return my phone calls. 

The Light 

Let’s shine some light on this. The word says In Proverbs “The godly give good advice to their friends; the wicked lead them astray.” I was not a good friend to Darla in the last few years of our relationship. Proverbs 27:5 also says “A truly good friend will openly correct you” In the end, I tried to be a better friend, and it was not welcomed. 

Later in the same chapter of Proverbs it says “Just as iron sharpens iron, a person sharpens the character of his friend.” 

This is the standard for my friendships now. I need to be iron in their lives and they need to be iron for me. We should hold each other up to the standard of the word and learn from one another how to better walk with Christ. 

A Broom 

It is time to sweep clean my old heart and repent. Father please forgive me for being a bad friend. Now is the time where I do not live in condemnation of the “would have should have could have” combos but in the grace that God gives all those that ask for forgiveness. 

This grace is a beautiful place full of peace and rest. Here God can gently speak love and mercy and I can learn that there is hope for me and hope for Darla too. 

Here I cut out the soul ties left behind by my friendship with Darla and I sweep them out. I will always be open to a returning relationship with her, but by the standards of Proverbs 27: iron sharpens iron. 

Here I ask for wisdom to build myself up, so that if Darla returns I can welcome her with the gentleness and love she deserves and through that love, win her back to Christ. 

Moving Forward 

I will not live in the if-only's and the what-if's for the rest of my life. Moving forward will not be easy. I am grieving not just my friend, but her marriage, her choices, and on behalf of her children. I just hope that the lessons I learn through this can make me a better friend in the future to those women God brings in my path. 

Have you ever had a friendship change because of your faith?

If you enjoyed this post, you may also like: Child of Divorce, Child of God-My Story, A Crisis in the Body of Christ, and The 3 Keys to Rebooting Your Life After Divorce

*The name of my friend has been changed to protect her family's privacy and out of respect for her husband and children. 

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