If I Could Have a Do-over

“Do-overs” are great!

I was very young when I first heard the expression, “Do-over.” I remember that my friends and I were playing a game. Someone messed up (went out of bounds, missed the ball, made the wrong move, etc. I do not remember.) and someone else yelled: “do-over”! Years later, as an adult, I was standing on the first tee box on a golf course. I hit a terrible shot and someone said, “Take a mulligan” (Just another word for do-over). I then took another shot (the first of many mulligans taken through the years).

“Do-overs” are great! I can look back and see some areas of my life in which I wish I could have a “do-over.” I now realize that I could have handled some things differently in my life. In some cases, I would have responded differently or handled a matter differently.

For example, if I could have a “do-over”:

1. I would learn to enjoy the moment more. Far too often I have spent too much energy being anxious about the future instead of living fully in the moment. Several times in our marriage, Charlotte has said to me, “Why don’t we just enjoy right now, instead of getting so upset.” I want to fully enjoy the moment instead of living in the past or future.

2. I would laugh more. Have you ever been around someone who was overly serious about themselves? Perhaps you say something light (small talk about the weather, the local sports team, etc.) and the person becomes very serious. All you were trying to do was to make small talk. When I am around someone like this, I usually feel a sense of caution.

Yes, there are things that happen in life that are frustrating, terrible, horrible, etc. At the same time, I don’t want to take myself too seriously. I would like to know that people generally feel at ease in my presence. Laughter has a way of putting people at ease, especially when you laugh at yourself. If I could have a do-over, I would fully enjoy the moments in life that are light and humorous.

3. I would spend less time worrying about people who choose to be miserable. There are people who choose to have negative attitudes. As a young minister, I thought if I did my work right then the people in the congregation will all be happy with me. Uh, not exactly. I eventually realized there are people who have chosen a negative, fault-finding attitude and do not want anyone to interrupt them. Many of these people have functioned this way for much of their lives.

Every now and then, a person will come along and mistakenly think that if everything is just so-so then these people will finally be happy. Not true. (Often this becomes like the situations police officers sometimes face when they get a domestic violence call. A husband and wife may have been fighting one another, but both can suddenly begin attacking the officer.)

4. I would pay more attention to people who need to be loved than worrying about why I wasn’t being loved, or encouraged, or appreciated, etc.

5. I would focus more on loving my wife and children in everyday, practical ways. When all is said and done, I am very dispensable in most areas of my life. However, I am the only husband and father that my wife and children have. The most important relationship investment that I can make each day is in my family.

6. I would pay more attention to what God is already doing in my life right now. Too often, I have focused on the future, thinking that one day all of the circumstances will finally come together. The moment is what I have.

7. I would accept and appreciate the situation that I am in (with all of its messiness), instead of thinking “If only…” thoughts. “Things would be different for me if only we had better…more…different…new…” God has given me this moment. I would like to be more grateful instead of telling God that I really need something else.

What would you do differently? What might you do differently this week?

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

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9 thoughts on “If I Could Have a Do-over

  1. Thanks for this Jim. I have been struggling with living in the positive lately — God has directed me to Philippians lately for a reason! The encouragement to stay encouraging, think on pure and lovely things, and do all without grumbling are all reminders that I have been living in fear and anxiety of the future and frustration of things not being the way I think they should be right now. I really like the last that you mention, accepting the mess of right now. I have not been doing this and needed your nudge this morning. Blessings to you!

    • Jen,
      It is good to hear from you again. I am grateful for your comment. Sounds life frustration and fear/anxiety have been themes in your life lately.

      The last point that you refer to, Jen, is one that I wrestled with for a long time. For so long, I thought that if only things would come together or get fixed then I would finally begin to experience real life. However, in the meantime, I felt as if I couldn't experience joy because of the mess. ("Mess"– was a variety of frustrations through the years.)

      When we are in college (either undergraduate or graduate), we often have certain expectations about the way life will be when we finally get out of school. We will study and go through trying times in school because we expect life to come together when we get out. Then we graduate and reality collides with our expectations. We don't live where we thought we would live or maybe we aren't doing the work we thought we would do. Or, maybe life is more than a struggle than we thought it would be.

      Again, I appreciate your comment and your kind words. (I certainly need a nudge at times as well. 🙂

  2. I wonder if our generation's commitment to continuous improvement and "excellence" makes us more susceptible to dissatisfaction, leading to our failure to enjoy the blessings in the middle of the messiness of our lives. It occurs to me that the excellence that we value is not the excellence that Jesus values and that his way of improvement is at odds with ours. Thanks for reminding me of his ways.

  3. I was reading this morning, Hebrews 13:21….."May He equip you with all you need for doing His will." Reminding me that this life is not all about me. Not about me at all, in fact. Loving Him and my neighbors should be my top priority. How often I forget that. Only He is worthy of praise and adoration. New mercies and grace are given to me every day. A new chance to get it right. Do-overs every morning. Sweet!

    • Pegramsdell,

      I like your words! Your last line alone is refreshing.

      "New mercies and grace are given to me every day. A new chance to get it right. Do-overs every morning. Sweet!"


  4. I would do less analyzing of people and be more accepting of them just the way they are. As an older adult, I've finally learned to just sit back and listen and enjoy hearing people talk about themselves and where they are in their journey rather than trying to "help" them "fix" themselves or their situations. WIsh I'd learned this earlier in life!

  5. Frank,
    Hope you are having a good summer! Good to hear from you.

    I suspect you are right regarding our generation's commitment to continuous improvement and its contribution to our dissatisfaction. It seems like we are putting tremendous pressure on relationships on a number of fronts. Consequently, nothing ever seems to really "measure up." Our marriages, friendships, the church, etc. regularly receive the message, "You don't measure up to my expectations." Then many of us go searching for some kind of fulfillment (often with disastrous consequences.)

    Really like your sentence regarding the excellence that we value not being the excellence that Jesus values, etc.

    Thanks Frank.

  6. Connie,
    A good reminder! I relate to your words. Critiquing and evaluating can be exhausting, especially when we move from person to person. Then, to try to implement a fix is tiring as well.

    A very nice statement that is worth pondering.

  7. If I could do the first 15 – 20 years of ministry over, I would focus completely on Jesus and give not a thought to church issues and debates. I would try to be more of a Barnabas and less of the Peter I seem to be! I still remember a sermon you did years ago at College Church on Barnabas and the need to be an encourager. That sermon was very helpful to me.