Life Isn’t Lived in the “What Ifs”

Erik Cooper —  December 12, 2012 — 3 Comments

I used to compete against PGA Tour professional Bo Van Pelt.

Yes, in golf.

Granted, we were both a little younger, my hair was feathered perfectly down the middle, and Steve Winwood’s “Back in the High Life” was #1 on the Billboard Charts, but we did play each other quite a few times in Indiana summer tournaments throughout the late eighties. I’ve even forgiven him for calling that two-stroke “teeing off in front of the markers” penalty that cost me the Little Caesars Angola title in ’89.

Bo was good, really good, but for awhile there I could hang with him. So I have to admit, seeing him paired with Tiger Woods on the final day of multiple PGA events this past season was a bit sobering.

What if I had stuck with it? What if I’d worked harder? What if I had pursued golf over music, ministry, and business?


The older I get, the more “what ifs” I collect. The more life-altering decisions are in the rear view mirror. The more forks there are in the road behind me. And the less life seems to have tied up with neat, tidy, little bows. When I was younger, I assumed this kind of tension and uncertainty would get easier to navigate with age. I was wrong.

It sounds strange to say, but with every passing year the uncertainty bucket continues to fill up. You’d think things would only get clearer, but every life choice you make also carries with it all the ones you didn’t. The ones you wonder about.

The what ifs.

What ifs are scary. And if you’re not careful, you can spend your life trying to control every possible contingency instead of, well, living.

Here’s what I’ve learned:

  • You’ll never be 100% sure. Hope for 80% and then get on with it.
  • If you have regrets, make sure they’re for forward momentum and not fearful idleness.
  • Live wholeheartedly into what is, not what you wonder might have been.

Life is full of Bo Van Pelts. In fact, you’ll collect more and more of them (him?) as you get older. Life isn’t lived in the “what if’s,” and there is much life yet to be lived.

So let’s get on with it.

3 responses to Life Isn’t Lived in the “What Ifs”

  1. You make me feel really good about my choices. At this point my only regret is that I never gave birth to children and that is beyond my control – well I guess I could have adopted a different moral standard. Sometimes I wonder what if I had married younger. However, there was no one to marry, so that what if is pointless. I mean, seriously, no one I’ve known could possibly compete with my husband. While I haven’t always been the model of a Godly woman, I have sought to be faithful to God most of my life and I’m sure that has made all the difference. Not bragging, praising the Lord for His goodness to me.

    • I love this Sharon….Mandy and I have enjoyed watching God bring beautiful things into your life, perhaps outside of the “normal” timeframes, but never outside of His timeframes.

  2. Right on Eric. Totally identify. Have some of those myself.

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