Spring schedules are bursting just as much as the gardens around me with new things popping up and the same familiar ones growing bigger. It's almost May. It's almost the end of the school year, so this is to be expected no matter how much I try, kind of like childbirth, to block out the memories from the previous year.
Today's schedule included a first grade field trip to the zoo, piano lessons, a quick dinner out and a baseball game complete with an hour long warm up then will end with finally getting back home to get boys in bed before putting away all the laundry and hopefully holding an intelligent conversation with my husband before passing out in bed and waking up to tackle tomorrow's to-dos.
I'm even getting a jump start as I'm writing on a Tuesday while listening through the wall to a duet of This Land is Your Land that my oldest is practicing with his piano buddy for an upcoming recital. Taking advantage of a brief quiet moment to center my mind and point my heart towards the One who is infinitely bigger than me brings an instantaneous peace to the scurry and instead highlights the joys and opportunities that come from delving into community.
He keeps me in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on thee. Isaiah's words are a permanent fixture on my body so that they will one day become a permanent fixture in my heart.
Last week after thinking about deeper conversation, a deeper conversation occurred. Pondering often encourages us to put those thoughts into practice and more often than not we are blessed with feeling the presence of God in return. Not that He wasn't there to begin with but that our hearts are ready and willing to search and see and notice the effect of being in His presence.
I wish I could remember how the topic came to be, but like most worthwhile conversations it was a twisting maze of rabbit trails that stopped with an ever so brief sharing focused on thankfulness and what could have been before blasting off to the next topic at hand. It's amazing what ground two women can cover in an hour or so of stolen time. It's also amazing what can stick with you out of countless other things.
Triggered by whatever conversation was happening, from across the table my friend looked at me and said "I could have...and then relayed a possible negative consequence to choices made earlier in life. I in turn responded with my own equally negative outcome that could have drastically altered every part of who I am today and where I live. And so went, both female brains going back and forth as we said and thought about all the things that could have been that aren't.
Could haves are too often used for regrets. Things we should have done but didn't, wanted to do but were too scared, did but wish we'd never, until we live life wishing for time back and never seeing the beauty in what we were able to live, and with whom we are able to live it.
Non stop since last week I have been thinking and listing over and over the things that could have been that I'm so thankful weren't and recognizes the new ones that occur on a daily basis. The times I wasn't paying close attention that could have resulted in a car accident. The stupid teenage decisions I made that could have resulted in more than high school heartbreak or bad memories. The times my words and actions were not filled with love and kindness but relationships remained intact. The times I ignored instead of helped but saw another helper come alongside instead reminding me to step out next when the opportunity arose again. The times I didn't behave like a woman whose heart has been redeemed but felt loved and forgiven despite my sinfulness. In all these times and many more being given grace, love, and mercy instead of what was deserved, being shown the true gospel over and over because it needs to be spoken to us everyday.
There are plenty of opportunities to learn from mistakes, to take the consequences from your choices and weigh them and allow them to change you and change others around you from example. Too often it seems as if learning the hard way is a special skill that my love and I possess and there are many who are sailing in the same boat. But for every hard consequence is a saving grace. While we are asked to be thankful in all things, no matter the angle from which you look, these times spent feeling truly and deeply thankful for what could have been, for the grace given and tragedy avoided, for the tangible representation of slow to anger and abounding in love, draw you even deeper into relationship with your Heavenly Father as you see His character played out in your life.
Take a moment in the bustling of Spring and find a could-have-been that didn't, a non-coincidental, completely and sovereignly planned instance of an outpouring of grace, love, and mercy. The more you look the more you'll find until you can't help but sit in silent awe at the way in which you are loved and cared for as you walk with Him.
Even in the hardest of hard, especially in that, search and find the could haves in your life and the life of those around you. He has never left you or forsaken you.
I hope you'll try it and as you do, I'll be praying for you. Pray for me.