“Remember not the sins of my youth and my rebellious ways . . .” – Psalm 25:7
Could-a, would-a, should-a. Occasionally my mind likes to play the what-if game. Know what I mean, looking back at my past life and imagining what if I had done this instead of that, made this choice instead of that one, gone a different direction from the path I took? Could-a, would-a, should-a, I like to call it. What a foolish waste of time, though, an exercise that leads to nothing but feelings of regret! Two things generally awaken me from such mindless wanderings. One is the reality that the clock cannot be turned back anyway, so forget about it. No do-overs, what’s done is done. The other is the fact that many other choices I’ve made have actually been good ones, excellent in fact. The first that comes to mind is my spouse, the love of my life, from whom our family was spawned and love continues to grow. Then there are the careers I have chosen, of which I can’t imagine doing anything that could be more rewarding.
Whenever I wrestle with the what-if game I also realize that I’m simply playing armchair quarterback with my life, looking back with 20-20 hindsight, through a lens of wisdom which I now have – thanks to the experiences and choices I’ve made through the years – but was clearly absent at the time I made those choices.
In his most recent newsletter Bob Buford, author of the bestselling book Halftime, makes the case that football games are most often won in the second half. He uses that analogy to demonstrate how our lives are much like football games, concluding that, “The first half gets you in the game,” he claims, “[but] the second half is for your best plays.” When I read that it occurred to me that all the choices we make in the first half, the good and the bad, the successes and the failures, prepare us for our best plays in the second half.
I still find myself praying often that same prayer of the Psalmist: “O Lord, ‘remember not the sins of my youth . . .’” to which I like to add: “. . . nor allow me to dwell on could-a, would-a, should-a; but instead use the wisdom I’ve gained from the first half of the game to be used in the second half – for the best plays.” May it be so. AMEN!