If I Could Do It Over . . .

What would you do differently?

The year has almost come to an end. Can you believe this?

Sometimes I think about what I might do if I could start the year (or years) over. There are some things I would do differently.

As a teenager, I used to play golf frequently at Tennison Golf Course in Dallas. I remember one of the first times I ever played. I hit a terrible drive and someone said, “Take a mulligan.” Mulligan is just another word for “do-over.” I remember taking a lot of mulligans at the golf course. There is nothing like a do-over!

As I think about 2009 and even earlier years, I wish I could have some do-overs. Yes, I know I am forgiven and am in a loving relationship with God. At the same time, I would like to go back and handle some situations differently. I would like to make some different decisions.

How about you? Do you ever wish for a do-over? Here are some do-over’s I would take if I had the opportunity.

1. I would enjoy the moment more. Far too often I have been anxious about the future instead of living fully in the moment. Can you relate to this? I remember once being on vacation. At the time, I was so concerned about some future event that it was difficult for me to enjoy the moment. Not only did I waste good energy on worry and anxiety, but I also missed the present moment which could have been fun.

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2. I would laugh more. Yes, we all experience difficult, frustrating, and anxiety-producing times in our lives. Yet, there is something to be said for laughter. A few evenings ago, I sat on our living room floor against a chair and watched an old Andy Griffith program on TV Land. Black and white. Old. Yet, for those few minutes, I laughed and laughed. It did me good! Charlotte and I once knew a woman who cut out cartoons from the Kansas City Star newspaper and posted them on the refrigerator door just to encourage her family to laugh. I am drawn to people who make me laugh. Such people often poke fun at themselves or tell stories that simply describe the lighter side of life.

3. I would spend less time worrying about people who choose to be miserable. I once thought that if a person did everything just right, then the people around him/her would be happy. I did not realize that there are some people who enjoy being miserable. There are others who have chosen to have a foul attitude. Yes, these people need ministry. However, such people can drain you dry if you get entangled emotionally with them.

4. I would pay more attention to people who need love and less time worrying about why I wasn’t being loved, or encouraged, or appreciated. Many people wallow in self-pity. I’ve been there and been defeated by it. Self-pity does no one any good. Furthermore, wallowing in such pity typically does not make a person feel any better. How sad to be a person who spends a lifetime feeling sorry for himself!

5. I would focus more on loving my wife and children in very practical ways. In most areas of my life, I am dispensable. One day, long after I am gone, my name will be recorded in the congregational history, in the list of ministers who served this congregation. The only thing that will separate me from the next minister will be a comma. Not so with my wife and children! I am the only husband and father that my wife and children have. They need to hear and see this love in very practical ways.

Are you the mother of two children? Are you a professor? Are you an auto mechanic? Are you a university student?

No matter who you are, you have probably learned from your past that knowledge will make all the difference in how you live in 2010.

Question:

What do you wish to do differently in the future than you did in the past?

(I posted something similar to this a few years ago. Nevertheless, these are words I still need to hear and remember.)

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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4 thoughts on “If I Could Do It Over . . .

  1. Jim, I really appreciate your emphasis in this post. I had to prepare four lessons on Ecclesiastes to deliver at the Harding Lectureship, and that exercise really opened my eyes to how God expects us to enjoy our present life.

    I’d combine #s 1 and 5 to say that I’d like to help my family enjoy life during 2010. Teenage years are stressful, my wife is balancing work and homemaking… I need to do what I can to serve them. I’m not responsible for their happiness, but I can minister to them in many ways.

    Grace and peace,
    Tim Archer

  2. Good thoughts as always. Not sure what to say except that I feel like I’m in the middle of process. So it’s kind of hard for me to look back and wish this and that, even though that most certainly is true. I want to look ahead, and try to discern in the present what God is doing with his goal in mind. But all your points here as so important. What I think I am focused on most of all now is to not react at bad news or what I think might be bad with panic, but instead to trust God, really trust God, and do so by prayer. Too often in the past I’ve failed in that, and my wife well knows it.

    • Very good Ted. I appreciate your comment. I like the way you speak from right in the middle of life. I can’t think of anything more important than to do just what you say here — learning to trust God.