The If/Then Principle

“They’re just sandcastles” keeps coming to mind . . .  several times each day, actually.

If you would like to learn more, read my post “Strawberries and Sandcastles.”

Ted Dekker also spoke another truth at the Write Canada conference – one that confirmed what I have been contemplating lately. He referred to the  “If/Then” principle . . . if such and such happens, then I will be content/happy/successful/etc.

I have spent far too much time thinking about the ifs in my own life . . . and in the lives of people I care about.

The following are things that are important to me, and yet, they are just sandcastles, things about which I will no longer obsess. (I’ve been thinking about how much I do that too.)

Career Choice

Write books . . . write copy . . . write any number of other things . . . edit . . . attend births . . . develop fitness business . . .

Barbara Sher wrote a book titled Refuse to Choose! While focus at any given moment is a good thing, it doesn’t mean we will only do that one thing forever.

Right now, editing and writing fill my time – social networking aside, but that’s another story. I have several clients with others hovering in the queue. If I focus on these projects and the skills development to do them even better, it doesn’t then mean I will set aside my other eclectic interests indefinitely.


Would I ultimately like to have a house that is clean, organized, and free of clutter? Sure, why not?

I used to find it necessary to do one of two things: allow myself to get all worked up about the state of the house or ignore it completely.

For the first time, I think I have achieved a healthy balance/tension. I don’t give housework much thought, but I do putter away from time to time and then move on to whatever else is at hand. (Perhaps this is evidence that this year’s theme, The Great Declutter, refers more to my mind than my home.)

For too long the nagging voice in my head said, “If you are a good housekeeper, then you are a more valuable human being, a better wife and mother, etc., etc., etc.” Now there’s a voice I will gladly ignore.


Are eating well and getting adequate physical activity beneficial for countless reasons? Absolutely!

However, the lies that go along with a consuming focusing on fitness could fill a book.

If I lose 20 pounds, then I will have more worth in so and so’s eyes. (If that’s the case, so and so needs an attitude adjustment – even if that so and so is you.)

If I eliminate this, that, or the other thing from my diet, then all my physical concerns will disappear. While that may be true to a certain extent, obsessing about every bite we take leads to a whole new set of issues.

And something that concerns me as a former personal trainer and a Christian . . .

If I only get enough exercise, then I will avoid most – if not all – of the effects of aging. While there are many advantages to being as active as we can for as long as we can, there is no setting on the treadmill that allows us to outrun our mortality.

Life’s I Shoulds

I have received a lot of good advice from a wide variety of sources over the years, voices that are well worth listening to.

However . . .

This is where obsession comes into play.

It seems I’ve silenced one voice only to have another ring out loud and clear.

It would be foolish for me to turn a deaf ear to those voices that are leading me down the path to becoming all God wants me to be, those voices that show me how to more effectively apply His Word, the Bible. Most times, I find those voices encouraging and uplifting – especially when they belong to those who truly care about me.

However, I have heard many voices in my life that were projections. The individuals were actually chastising themselves for not doing such and such. They were really speaking to themselves, but it was easier to toss their burdens on other people’s shoulders.

At other times I took these burdens on myself. Often the other person wasn’t even implying that I should do something.


The if/then principle I will adhere to is this:

If I can pluck and enjoy the strawberries that God has placed before me and help others to do the same . . .

And if I can remember what has eternal value and identify and refuse to obsess over the sandcastles . . .

Then I will have a better handle on this life.

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