WHAT IF THE WORST THING HAPPENS?
"What if I get scared?" She snuggled up to me, her face turned up with her eyes piercing mine.
I was tucking my daughter into bed last night. I used to feel completely lost when she would ask me a question that started with "what if". I didn't know what to tell her because my own "what ifs" would start assaulting my mind. Panic would start racing around my heart. I could always tell that she could see the fear that filled my eyes and we would both cling to each other. I didn't know how to be her safe place, because I was also lost, so we would be tossed around in our emotions together, lost at sea.
As she's gotten older and I've done the work to heal and find myself, my response to her fears has changed.
"Mom," she poked my arm and it brought me back to the present moment. "What if I get scared in the middle of the night?" she asked again.
"What if?" I responded. "What are you going to do?"
She frowned, "I don't know."
I hugged her. "You'll be brave," I said. "And then, you'll wake up tomorrow morning."
She looked into my eyes and I watched them question mine as I looked back into them without hesitating. I watched peace soften her expression before I kissed her goodnight and held her for a long hug, until she finally let go.
It's not that I dismiss her fear. It's not that I'm calloused to her pain. It's not that I have less fear now — I just know that I have lived through my own worst nightmares and she will too.
The "what ifs" are always going to be there.
One week ago, we moved across the country from Denver into our own house in the Nashville area. Even though I knew this was the right step to take, doubts still kept pestering me. As I was getting ready to move, the "what ifs" faced me at every turn.
"What if this is a mistake? What if I picked the wrong house? What if I can't pay my mortgage? What if we won't be safe all by ourselves?"
What if? What would I do?
Sometimes I find it helpful to write down all my "what ifs" and answer exactly what I'd do if each one of them happened. Once I've made that list, my brain relaxes.
Our "what ifs" always stem from an overwhelming sense of vulnerability and powerlessness inside of us, so when we center ourselves and give our minds something to do, we can get back to living in the present moment.
The truth is, nothing is everything that we dreamed it would be. Even when our dreams are better than what we could have imagined, there is some part of them that is harder than we could have prepared ourselves for.
Every single person has their own set of "what ifs", no matter what their life looks like on Instagram. We can look at someone else that seems to have everything we want and think we'd be happier if we were there, but we can't know everything they've been through and are currently going through to be there.
Our "what ifs" tend to start multiplying when we have forgotten who we are. When we have forgotten where our feet are standing, where the foundation of our life is anchored, we feel like someone who is lost at sea. We have begun to listen to the wrong voices. We've started hesitating instead of jumping. We've started comparing our growth to someone else's. We've started feeling like it's too late for us. We have forgotten what makes our hearts feel warm and come alive.
With a little work to refresh our minds and get focused, we can release our "what ifs". It's not easy. Some of our "what ifs" are much harder to face than others.
Just remember: It'll be okay.
You will be brave.