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You know how, sometimes, when you’re talking with a friend for a long time, you can end up talking about something so random, so unrelated to your original topic that you can’t help but say, “How on earth did we get HERE?”

I love trying to think back and remember which rabbit trails and diversions landed us smack in the middle of, “Remember that time we took the road trip and lost your car?” when we started the conversation with, “How’s the family?” It’s as fun as working backward to figure out when I first met a friend or started reading a blog or heard about something or someone that used to be new.

It’s interesting and kind of fun to see how one twist, one turn can so drastically change a conversation, a relationship, a life.

—————-

Did you ever read those Choose Your Own Adventure books? I did. Loved them. But I’m not sure I read them the way they were designed to be read.

See, every time I had to make a choice, I either dog-eared the page (sorry, librarians) or simply kept my finger in that spot. That way I could go back after reading one scenario and see what would happen if I took that other road. I liked keeping my options open.

Who am I kidding? I still like keeping my options open.

—————-

After working in my first post-college job for nearly a year, I left to start graduate school. But after one semester I knew that program wasn’t right for me at that time, and I resigned my assistantship. My former employer hadn’t replace me yet, so after what I jokingly referred to as my sabbatical, I returned to my job.

I’d kept my finger in that spot and went back for a do-over.

So many times since then I’ve wondered about that string of decisions. Should I have finished graduate school? I never ended up earning my master’s degree, after all. Should I have resisted the temptation to return to my job I loved so much? It was never the same after that.

Later I left the ad agency I worked at for a supposedly better position at another, supposedly better agency. It WAS a good job at a good company – but it wasn’t for me. My manager was amazing – brilliant, hardworking, on her way up, and willing to mentor young women like myself. I could see that if I stayed there, learning about things I wasn’t interested in and working more hours than I was paid for, I would become just like her.

That wasn’t a bad thing, but it wasn’t what I truly wanted for my life. Later, when I was laid off from what I thought would be my dream job full of meaning and accomplishment and work-life balance (is that even a thing?!), I wondered if maybe I’d gotten it wrong.

I could worry myself down that track for all sorts of experiences.

What if I hadn’t joined my friends for that church plant (that failed)?
What if I hadn’t shared my heart with that friend who misunderstood me?
What if we hadn’t bought this house? Or opened that credit card?
What if we hadn’t taken that trip? Or started that project?

But the thing is . . . life isn’t a choose your own adventure story. We don’t get to go back, to do life over, to change our minds, to choose a different adventure.

Or . . . can we?

—————-

Well, not exactly. We can’t turn back the clock, change history, or – in most cases – get back that job we gave up. We can’t spend our lives regretting our choices, wishing we’d chosen other paths, longing for do-overs.

Life is no choose your own adventure book.

But our God promises to forgive our pasts, our mistakes, our sins. And then? His mercies are fresh – brand new – every morning. And we can rest easy in the peace of a God who has plans – good plans – for us, a God who removes our sins as far as the east is from the west.

And then? Then we can be still and ask Him, “What’s our next adventure?”

By Mary, who’s spending the 31 days of October giving up on fairy tales – even the kind where you choose your own ending.

{Photo by Paro_by_Peace}
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  1. 1

    Mary,
    I take great delight in knowing that all my days have been already written in the book of Life by a Sovereign God. It’s a “made for me” adventure story and I get to play a key character. So long as the leading character is God, I know it’s going to be the best adventure possible. Even when things go awry for me, God, with his mercy and forgiveness steps in and gives my character new life. What an awesome author our God is!! Thanks for a wonderful post!
    Blessings,
    Bev

    • 2

      Yes! I love the lyric in Mighty to Save that talks about God being the forever author of salvation. I’m so thankful that HE is writing my story, and it’s not actually in my hands at all.

  2. 3
    Jasmine says:

    I feel very encouraged thank you

  3. 4

    There have been sooo many times I have wondered if I have gotten it wrong, but in my heart I know I am intentionally seeking and following God and even through my mistakes, He is directing my paths. As long as my life is yielded to Him, I am going the right direction, the twists and turns are all part of it. And the adventure continues…

  4. 6

    Mary, I enjoyed this. We can all relate to these experiences you share. Thank you for the reminders of God’s gracious provisions every step of the way.

  5. 7

    sigh. sniff. smile. encouraged. thank you mary. xo

  6. 8

    Great post… :-) Letting go of the ‘what ifs’ and learning to ask God ‘whats next’? Just the thought of starting out fresh each morning… just that one thing proves to me that God is awesome :-)

    Thank you!!
    Love,
    Patty

    • 9

      Oh, I love the way you said that – moving from “what if” to “what’s next.” That’s one we all need to remember from time to time!

  7. 10
    Julie L. says:

    Thank you Mary, for a wonderful post. So timely and encouraging.

  8. 11

    I collect sayings and quotes. A favorite goes something like this: You can’t go back and recreate the beginning, but you can move forward and create a new ending. So go from where you are. The past always tells us the same old junk anyway. Nothing new there! Just go with an open heart and go with God it will all be worthwhile. To know “why” usually doesn’t change a thing.

    Peg

  9. 13

    Oh Mary! A few weeks ago I celebrated a high school reunion and reconnected with friends I hadn’t seen in ages. Tpday I am having lunch with a best friend that I had lost contact with. My life has also been full of unpredicted twists and turns but God is the constant. He is always there, always loving, always protecting. Thanks for your insights!

    • 14

      Enjoy reconnecting with your friends, Tammy! It seems like, sometimes, those reunions make it even more clear why God’s story was better than what we’d dreamed of anyway!

  10. 15

    I just let it roll on and on and on. Something’s I wish I never did cos they cost me a lot of pain and hurt. Some things I regret I never did cos I was doing something that caused a lot of hurt and pain. But in general, what can we do. We make choices at that time and well, every thing costs. Look at JESUS, it cost HIM HIS life on the cross. So, try to make good choices. And if I get it wrong, well, so what. I’ll learn the next time not to do it again.

  11. 17

    A very insightful and encouraging post. I do agree with all that you had to say and believe that the “what ifs” are counterproductive and God wants us to be productive.

    I do believe that if we allow God’s Holy word to direct our paths and embrace the fruit of the spirit that we can avoid alot (not all) pain and hurt. God shall always be our guide, if we allow him.

    Thanks for reminding us.

  12. 19

    Loved this today, especially since I feel the Lord prompting me to let go of my past hurts and disappointments. I see a “new” adventure on the horizon! Amen!

  13. 20
    Anna Lynch says:

    thank you for your article. it touched my heart.

  14. 21

    Thank you.

  15. 22

    Great post! Good word at the end that God DOES have good plans for us, even though we’d love to flip back through those Choose your own adventure books for our lives. Yeah, those books were great.. ; ). I’m writing for 31 days on finding adventures in creativity. Loove all the adventure references everywhere!

  16. 23
    alina y says:

    Once again I am reminded that my sins have been forgotten and thrown as far as the east is from the west. This is just one big huge reason why my heart just wants to sing and dance in thankfulness to my saviour. All glory to the Jesus for being the author of my life.

  17. 24

    I love this little reminder. I had a day today and all I could think was my story was already written and knowing that was encouraging! It showed me that I just needed to say Thank you Lord for showing up in my day. I love him soo sooo much. Thank you for your words!

  18. 25

    Wonderful post, Mary! Thank you!

  19. 26
    Beth Williams says:

    Insightful post!

    I have often cried and fretted about my past mistakes. Wanting to go back and have a re-do. The good thing is that with prayer about my current situation He answers loud and clear–this is the path I want you on for now.

    With the many twists and turns in life it is amazing to see where I’ve ended up and what I’m doing with my life right now. Never envisioned all this greatness from Him. Can’t wait to live out the rest of the story!

  20. 27

    Thank you so much for this post! Since my daughter’s biological father passed away in February I have spent so much time asking these same questions. I’m so glad to know I’m not alone but also to receive some encouragement in this circumstance.

    Thank you!

  21. 28
    Marinalva Sickler says:

    Mary, I haven’t been on your blog lately and was pleased to see your post. I loved your “We can’t spend our lives regretting our choices, wishing we’d chosen other paths, longing for do-overs.” It’s absolutely true. I also loved your 31 days on October. You’re fabulous!

  22. 29

    I’m late to the party, but I wanted to tell you how much this post resonates with me. I loved the Choose Your Own Adventure books, and I always had to go back and read each possible ending. I actually mentioned these books in a recent post, too. :) We must be kindred spirits.

    My husband and I are talking about buying our first house right now, and it’s so hard to commit to one neighborhood, one floor plan, etc. I like to keep my options open, too, and I worry about making the wrong choice and ending up with regret. Thanks for the reminder that every day is a new start with our God.