How to Not Live in a Parallel Universe

Have you ever wished you could step into a parallel universe and see how your life would have unfolded in the absence of one life-altering moment?

Do you find yourself wishing you lived in a parallel universe, where things turned out differently?

What was that moment that sent your life veering off in a new direction? Maybe it was a particular choice you made, or an unexpected tragedy, but it was a definite turning point. How has that turning point affected you today?

For me, the anniversary of my most dramatic turning point rolls around every September 23. That was the day the man I’d promised to “love, honor, and cherish as long we both should live” stopped living. One drunk driver, one head-on collision, and it was all over.

It might be tempting to wonder, “What would my life have been like if that had never happened?”

But here’s the amazing thing: after 28 years, all I can think about is what I would have lost. Two of my children would never have been born. Two others would probably never have joined my family. And the wonderful man I am married to today would be a stranger.

The reality is that there’s no point in speculating about the experiences I “could have had” if my life had run along on that other track—the one where September 23 ended with a routine arrival at home and life went on as planned. Because those potentialities simply never happened. In fact, they weren’t really potentialities at all.

A tragedy like a car accident, can send life veering off in an unexpected direction.

Do you think, as a friend of mine once suggested, that I am living in resignation because I accepted this life—including that one horrific moment—as the only one for me? I have to say this peace in my head and heart is something much richer than resignation. It’s trust.

I know Who charts my course through this universe, and I know He loves me. He proved that over 2000 years ago, when He endured His own enormous tragedy to redeem my life. He didn’t make that sacrifice for a life that would be useless or trivial. My life, with all its twists and turns (that only surprise me, not Him) must be worth a great deal to Him. So I trust Him.

If my life matters that much to the God of this universe, then this is the universe I want to live in.

So rather than resorting to fruitless speculation, I’m sticking with seeing my actual universe through a lens of trusting gratitude. Of course, that’s much easier now, 28 years after the fact, than it was right after tragedy struck. But even back then, I could already see the hand of God touching my horror and grief and loss with redeeming grace.

That’s why I hope you, too, walk the road you’re on with trust. I hope you’re reaching out to Jesus Christ for the abundant life He promised. Remember, he wasn’t just referring to life in heaven with Him after death. He also meant now. Even in the valley of the shadow of death. Even while the tragedies of your life are fresh and raw, even when it’s painful to get out of bed and face another morning, even when you don’t want to trudge through another pointless night. There is always abundant life to be had in Him. Look for it. Ask Him for it.

Don’t miss it by peering down the road to “What if…” or “If only.” Those things were never going to be part of your story. Instead, train your eyes on the only One who can bring purpose out of pain. Remember, He’s the One whose plan turned the unjust execution of an innocent Man into healing and forgiveness for millions of people He loves. Like you.

Welcome the turning points in your life with trust in the God who directs your steps.

Even if today seems to hold more losses than gains because of that turning point in your life, trust the One who came to redeem your life for purposes beyond your imagining. He will never leave you or forsake you. He died and rose again to bring you abundant life—in this universe, and the next.

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