There is a poison in our culture telling us that we need more. A poison that most times, we don’t even know we are drinking. It is called the “If only” poison. Our culture is consumed with living for the “if only.” If only we had the newest phone, if only we had a newer car, if only we had that vintage sidetable. If only. If only, then I would be able to live the way I am supposed to.
I am just as guilty as anyone else. For years I lived this way and didn’t even realize it. When we had our first two kids I worked full time. I would be with them all day and go to work when my husband got home. I would tell myself, “If only I didn’t have to work so much, then I could be the mom I want to be.” Then a few years later, our situation changed and I got to be a stay at home mom, but at the trade of my husband working 12 hour days. “If only I got to see my husband more and get a break, then I could be the mom I want to be.” A few more years went by and my husband was blessed with a more 9-5ish job, just as I had prayed, but we still were extremely tight on funds. “If only I could sign my kids up for classes like other kids, then I could be the mom I want to be.” Another year went by and business was better, but we also had more kids to feed and clothe and I found myself saying, “If only we had a bigger house, then I could be the mom I want to be… if only.”
And that is where Satan showed himself too boldly. I love where we live. Yes, it is small, the yard is small, we don’t own it, we share a wall with our neighbor and an apartment complex looks down onto us. But I love it. Our landlords are kind, we talk to our neighbors because we are so close, the yard is just right, and I always know what is going on because there is nowhere to hide inside, yet, I felt I needed more. I realized that in the 3 years we had lived in this house I love, I had been living and waiting for the if only. I realized my whole life had been lived for the if only. Growing up was a series of if only, then I can live. School, living by the beach, finding the job I wanted, getting married were all filled with if onlys; and now motherhood. I had been freely drinking from the enemy’s cup and it was slowly stealing the life I should have been living for years. A life of freedom.
Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed my life. I was enjoying being a mom, but I was always looking to what would make it better. I wasn’t looking to what would make it best. Better and best are two very different things. Better can be filled with stuff. Better can be filled with more money, ballet lessons, bigger houses, and gym memberships. This can all make life better… for a moment. And then you get tired of the better you have and want the bigger better, the if only better. The if only better has no substance. It is poison that does not fulfill.
So I decided to live for the best. The best has no if onlys because God has been made first, instead of earthly things. I decided to search for what God sees. “The LORD does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.” (1 Samuel 16:7). The Lord hears our children laughing, He sees our children’s joy as they play together. He sees that when I am content, my children are content. And now I am content. This doesn’t mean I do not have dreams or wants. Dreams are good to have. But when I allow my dreams to become my if only, then I have stopped living for the day that has been given to me.
I am not saying that ballet lessons, bigger houses or money are bad things. They are great things and can further and bless His kingdom. I am simply saying that when we live for those, when we think those are most important and what will make our lives more, then we have forgotten to see what God sees. We need to be content and live where we are, with what we have been given. The enemy wants to tell you, “If only you had more, or were more talented, or more beautiful, or more crafty… then you could be the mom you want to be.” But God wants to show you the abundance that is waiting right in front of you. He wants to show you, that you were made free to live today with His endless capability with however much or little you may have. He made man from dust, and we have all been given more than dirt to fill our hands with. If only, is no way to live. If only, is no way to raise the next generation. If only, is a poison that will keep us from being the moms our kids were meant to have.