Sometimes I wish that I lived a different life.
That thought makes me feel like a horrible person. Even writing it out makes me cringe a bit.
I would say that many of us think this. It creeps into our minds when we are in a dark place. It whispers to us that there is a better life than the one we are living. It convinces us to stay discontent with our life.
So then you question yourself: What would’ve happened if I chose differently? What would’ve happened if I was raised in a different home? What would’ve happened if I went to this college instead of the other? What would’ve happened if I chose a different internship? What would’ve happened if I hung around this group of friends rather than that group of friends? We give ourself all of these “what if” questions — and deep down we know that they cannot be answered. But they keep gnawing at us. They keep tearing away at any self-confidence we might have had.
I have thought about these things quite a bit the past year. I do not say this so you’ll comment something sympathetic or say something kind to me. In fact, I do not want that at all. I say this because it’s true. I have wrestled with these questions several times. I have thought about what would be different if I didn’t do ministry.
I joked about that once to someone and that person said to me, “But what you’re doing is meaningful. What I’m doing isn’t.” Interesting, isn’t’ it? There is a mindset that we have that says: “I could be more meaningful elsewhere.” It says a lot about human nature. We desire to have meaning somewhere. But, at the same time, we do not feel like we have enough meaning in our current situation. We always think we could be more meaningful elsewhere.
If I had planted a church there…
If I had worked at that church…
If I would have went to that college…
If I would have married that person…
If I was a teacher, doctor, lawyer, musician, actor, manager, etc….
We live our lives longing for something else. We live our lives wishing we would have chosen differently. Yet all the while, we are too afraid to take “that leap of faith.” Perhaps we are living the wrong life. Perhaps we would have more meaning doing something else.
But instead of doing something, we sit there and allow those “what if” questions to gnaw at us. We sit there and regret the life we never lived. We sit there and refuse to live the life we have.
Sometimes I wish I lived a different life. I really do. Sometimes I think that my life could have more meaning. Sometimes I think that the reason I haven’t found a job yet is because God does not want me to do ministry. Sometimes I fear that I made the wrong choice. And if you’re honest with yourself, sometimes you do, too.
I wish there was an easy answer to this. I wish that I could say something sentimental that would tie everything up and leaving you feeling confirmed in your occupational choice. But I can’t.
Here is what I can say: In my life, I have felt affirmed in ministry and at times I haven’t felt affirmed. There are times I wish that I did something else and there are times that I’m happy that I will never do anything else. Perhaps I’m bipolar. Or perhaps I realize that humanity seeks meaning. And humanity always thinks that there is more meaning elsewhere. And by always looking elsewhere rather than where you are now, you miss your life. In longing for a different life, you lose your life.
Don’t get so caught up in longing for a different life that you miss your own life. If you want to do something different, either do it or stop daydreaming about it. Make a change or live your life. But don’t waste it.