Had I Been

Had I been born into a different family my life would, no doubt, have turned out entirely different.  I could have been born a Kennedy, in which case, I would likely have gone to Harvard and entered politics, or been a writer, or philanthropist.  Had I been born a Rockefeller or a Gates or a Buffet, no doubt, my life would be different.  But, I was born a Patterson.

Had I been born in a different time my life would, no doubt, have turned out entirely different.  Had I been born in the 19th century I might have become a tool maker or blacksmith.  Had I been born in the 18th century, maybe a printer or even a pirate.  Even one decade earlier and it would’ve been too late for me to be involved in computers, which has been part of my current life for 30+ years.

Had I not left school in 1972 my life would, no doubt, have turned out entirely different.  I most likely would have attended college, and obtained an engineering degree.  Who knows where I would have ended up.

But, life is not what could have been, or should have been, or might have been.  Life is what it is.  While I might find plenty of reasons and things to place blame on, largely what my life has become is more of my own doing than anyone else’s.  While circumstances and events have mostly been out of my own direct control, what I decided to do with those circumstances and events has been entirely my decision and choice.

In studying the Bible it becomes quite clear God will not judge you based on what you did, or did not, have.  How much money you did, or did not, have.  You will, however, be judged on what you did with what things you’ve been given.  Did you throw it away?  Did you squander it?  Did you ignore it?  Did you bury it?

So, although, we might spend time wondering what might have been, it is probably more useful to think in terms of ‘what do I do now’, or ‘How do I go forward from this point?’

While I might be able to correct some wrongs of the past, for the most part what is done is done.  The emphasis should not be placed on what wrongs were done, but on what lessons were learned.  Focusing less on what opportunities were lost, and more on what opportunities still lie ahead.

I’ve often considered the impact my life might have on the world.  Most of the time I have evaluated my considerable impact by comparing the impact one raindrop has as it drops into the ocean.  A small ripple, and then nothing.  But, the more realistic evaluation is one which will not be fully known in this lifetime, and in fact, may not be known until this era comes to a close.  For there is nothing quite as flawed as self-evaluation, for which we are so insufficiently qualified to undertake.  Needless to say, God will be the ultimate judge, and, perhaps, the only qualified judge of our contribution and worth.  It’s taken considerable time and effort, but I’ve finally come to grips with the fact that my life will one day be defined by the simple dash that will be placed between my birth date and date of death.  It is a sobering thought, but a deceptive one, for it does not take into account the fullness and complexity of life and the impact our living has had on others who have been placed in our path.  In fact, it might be said there are no accidents or quirks of fate that have brought the people you have met in your lifetime into your focus.  The words and actions exchanged all have meaning, regardless of our limited ability to comprehend and make meaning of them.

We tend to judge based on what little information we have to go on.  In doing so, I suspect we often miss the mark.  Who is to say, for example, who is more important – Dr. Billy Graham, or the Sunday School teacher who led Mr. Graham to the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ?  For, you cannot have the one without the other.  Who is to say that Steve Jobs was more important than Steve Wozniak.  Oh, you’ve not heard of Wozniak?  Well, he was the co-founder of Apple.  Without Woz you would have no Jobs and no Apple.  And what about Paul Allen?  Never heard of Mr. Allen?  Well, he was co-founder of Microsoft.  Without Mr. Allen you have no Mr. Gates and no Microsoft.  Yes, we have a tendency to overlook those seemingly insignificant individuals, without which, the modern world would look entirely different.  So, who is to really know what impact our life might have on those who are around us.

So, my friend, if you have read this far, then I have a closing thought for you to ponder — Quit thinking about “Had I Been” and start thinking in terms of “Where Am I Going From Here Forward”.

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One Response to “Had I Been”

  1. beamcguire@gmail.com Says:

    Such a wide post! Enjoyed this very much! Lots to think about here! Blessings….

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