If Only…

Do you ever wish, if only…? I do. Sometimes I open up my closet and I stare down at my skeletons. I think about choices I have made, situations that I have endured, and I wonder what kind of person I would be without them.

I don’t do it very often, because quite frankly, it isn’t a place I want to hang out. However, I firmly believe that I am who I am because of those blasted things. I think about my childhood, and how a certain person robbed me of part of it. Although it has affected my relationship with my husband, I feel like I have been a more observant mother, teacher, and friend. I have a connection to people who I wouldn’t have had, had I not endured what I did. I wouldn’t be able to demonstrate true forgiveness to someone who has never asked.

I think about regrets. If I hadn’t got pregnant at 21, I wouldn’t have my beautiful son. My husband would have gone to Medical School, and we might not even live where we do. Sometimes I feel guilty about that. I feel like he sacrificed his future for mine because I only had one more year of school left.

Right from the start we were so broke. He brought home $180/wk and $220 on a big week. It was barely enough to live on, but too much for Food Stamps. Even in the early years, we relied on my parents and moved to the farm where we didn’t have to pay for housing. Our kids were happy. We didn’t have a lot of extra’s. I learned to Yard Sale, we grew our own vegetables, froze everything we could, and raised chickens, turkeys, and pigs. If only… what if we had waited until we were more financially secure. How would things be different?

As the kids grew up, we made decisions about moving back to my husband’s home town…twice. We moved in to the same house. He worked as a herdsman and I was miserable. Both times, it didn’t work out and we returned to our family farm. We moved in to the same house on the farm three times. Perhaps we were slow learners. Maybe we just needed to leave to find out that where we were in the first place was where we needed to be. Is that what life is about? Do you sometimes need to make a move to find out that you needed to stay put in the first place? If we hadn’t made those moves, would we have never learned God’s will for our family?

My husband left his workplace several times. Each time he left, the owner came to find him and offered him his job back, with higher pay. Did he need to leave to find out where he belonged?

My father always says that if you don’t put your pole in the water, you’ll never catch a fish. Some of our skeletons are just that, old dried up fish. In 1990 we decided to try our hand at farming. Both of us had grown up on working dairy farms. It was risky business right from the start.

The expensive grain that we bought gave our skinny cows diarrhea and because it had been dumped on the cement floor, we couldn’t return it. It became very costly pig food. The price of grain skyrocketed and the price of milk plummeted. We loved working together, but we couldn’t pay our bills. After 3 years, we sold the cows, went through bankruptcy and returned to the workforce. If only…

We got pregnant with our 3rd child with no insurance before we sold the cows. We found out while my husband was flat on his back in the hospital. CMP had left wires in the grass and he found them while mowing the lawn with the push mower. The wires wrapped around his tibia and fibula and had to be surgically removed.

Life is not easy. We have suffered great losses…had loved ones taken way too early. We have learned tough lessons the hard way and made bad decisions that we didn’t realize were bad until we made them. I think about the kind of people I like to hang around with. They are the ones that have “been there” and “done that” like us. I think about my favorite pastors, musicians, teachers, and mentors. They are not the ones that have had an easy road. They are the ones who really understand that life is hard, that life isn’t linear, it has bumps and twists, and surprise endings. They are the overcomers, the ones who don’t lose hope, and keep forging on. They give me courage. They are the ones who have made up their minds to make the best of each and every day and every moment. They are the ones who don’t open the door to invite the skeletons to stir up the “If Only’s” of the past. They live in the moment. They celebrate their blessings and only peek at the past to remember the lessons.

Today I resolve to acknowledge the “If Only’s” of my closet because they make me who I am today. I will use them to encourage others and be the testimony that God expects me to be. May God, strengthen my back so that I stand tall and provide protection for the future mistakes that I am sure to make. May I continue to be transparent to others so that they can learn from my nasty skeletons. Otherwise, the experiences have been a waste and I learned nothing, and I don’t want that.

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