I play a lot of what if games with myself. Mostly I play these mental games with myself when I’m driving on my long commute.
What if I won the lottery? I start thinking of all kinds of scenarios that could occur if I won the lottery. Nevermind that I’d have to actually play the lottery to win. What would be my first purchase? What charities would I support? What vacations would I take? Who would I buy a house or car for?
What if I ever won an Academy Award? I think through my acceptance speech. Nevermind that I would actually have to be in the film or music industry. Would I thank God first? Who else would get thanked? Do I talk louder and faster as the music starts cueing me to get the heck off the stage?
I also play this what if game with relationships from my past. Both those I’ve dated or married, as well as those I was friends with. What if I had done such and such differently? I wonder what would happen if I saw so and so on the street. Would this friend recognize me? Did I tell them about Christ? Would I ever go back to that relationship?
All of these what if games are seemingly innocent.
Or are they?
The lottery and the academy award acceptance speech indicate a fanciful longing for something I don’t currently have. Does that mean I’m not content in my life, as it is? For some, this may indicate a dissatisfaction with what you have or perhaps a desire for more…more…more. In my case, it’s an exercise in thinking through what is important to me. Who would I thank? Who would I support financially?
However, the other…the thinking of past relationships. That’s more dangerous. In an age of social media, it’s super easy to track down the ex-boyfriends to “see how they are doing.” What is the end result? Satisfaction or glee that they aren’t doing well? Jealousy when you see they are doing well? Anguish over your “what if it had worked out” scenario? Guilt and a feeling of betraying your current relationship?
That look backwards at the exes isn’t good for us. Looking back isn’t ever good for us. During the time of Sodom and Gomorrah, Lot and his family are leaving the burning of the city…the wrath of God for blatant disobedience.
In Genesis 19:17 (NIV), the angels speak to Lot “…Flee for your lives! Don’t look back, and don’t stop anywhere in the plain! Flee to the mountains or you will be swept away!”
They flee. And they are specifically told not to look back. They run from the wrath and towards protection. Except Lot’s wife can’t resist the temptation to look back. She was disobedient to God’s command.
“But Lot’s wife looked back and she became a pillar of salt.” Genesis 19:26 (NIV)
While the rest of her family…the rest of her life ran forward, she lagged behind. She turned and watched fiery sulfur fall from the sky consuming the city she had grown to love. And that fire consumed her as well. The scripture isn’t clear exactly why she was turned to a pillar of salt. It could be because she valued her past more than her future. It could be a consequence of disobeying God. Regardless, she looks back over her shoulder and pays more attention to a burning city than she does the future, her family, and the command of her God.
When I play the “what if” game in regards to the relationships of my past, then I’m doing the same thing as Lot’s wife. I’m glancing back over my shoulder. Nothing good comes from looking over our shoulders and staring into the past. It takes our eyes off the Lord. It takes our eyes off of the future. It takes our eyes off our current friends and family relationships.
While social media makes it easy, resist the temptation to become Lot’s wife. Don’t look back ladies…let’s encourage one another to look forward.