What if We Make the Wrong Move?

What would life be like if we hadn’t moved to Kansas 10 years ago?


This isn’t a question I ponder much. I’m typically not overly sentimental or prone toward melancholy. I make plenty of mistakes, but I don’t second guess big decisions very often.

I like to move on, already.

Last week, though, when I was poking around on Twitter, I started seeing people we used to know when we lived in Arkansas. I might be able to chalk it up to my already cloudy mood, but seeing all those names and faces sent me down a trail I usually try to avoid.

What if we hadn’t moved?

We had an opportunity to relocate to the area where I grew up a year before we actually did. After extensive thought, prayer and counsel, Randy and I both firmly felt the no. The door was open, but it was not for us.

A year later, the same opportunity surfaced again, and this time—just as firmly—we sensed the yes.

So we finished out the 2,200-square-foot basement of the home we had recently built and put the house on the market. Six months later—house still unsold—we went to China to adopt our second daughter, came home and moved to Kansas.

Today, there’s not much in our lives that looks the way we once envisioned it would. The job that brought Randy here wasn’t what he expected, and he left a few years later, disappointed and disillusioned.

The Great Recession hit shortly after that, forcing our family into an unexpected chapter of new jobs, layoffs, downsizing and out-of-town work. God provided, sustained and guided, but it was hard.

There has been good amid the hard, of course. My parents, who live in a nearby city, have gone through monumental transitions in recent years. They’ve needed us—our physical presence, especially—and we’ve been here to help.

Lilly and Molly have had wonderful teachers at school. They’ve learned to adapt, to live through the kind of change that I never experienced until I went to college. They are better for it—I am sure of that.

I’ve learned flexibility and developed friendships that have affected my life in deep, profound ways.

But still the question persists: What if we hadn’t moved?

When we were pondering moving the first time, I had a heart-to-heart talk with one of my mentors.

“What if we make a mistake?” I asked her. “What if we pray and sincerely feel God leading us there, and we get it wrong? What if we find out after we move that we should have stayed in Arkansas?

“What then?”

Her response was simple. God knew our hearts, she told me. And if we moved to Kansas after careful thought and prayer, only to find out later that it was a mistake, He would not abandon us there.

That truth has sustained me through some difficult days. But although things haven’t turned out how we had planned, it doesn’t necessarily mean that we should have stayed.

Sure, it might be easier to point the finger and blame ourselves for what might—in retrospect—seem like a bad decision. It’s harder to say it wasn’t a mistake—that moving to Kansas was part of part of God’s unseen design for us, and for the people around us who have needed us.

I feel the weight of this statement. I don’t toss it out like a Christian cliché intended to end an uncomfortable conversation (or wrap up a blog post). But even as my eyes cloud over with tears, I hold fast to these words with fierce determination, because I believe that they are true.

I have no idea what life would be like if we hadn’t moved. We’ve had some tough times here, but we may have had even tougher times there. There’s no way of knowing, really.

What I do know is this: God is faithful. He loves us. And everything that has happened in our lives since we moved to Kansas has been rooted in His good purposes.

That doesn’t really answer my original question, but it’s the only answer I have.

And I’m choosing to be OK with that.

Lois Flowers

P.S. Linking up this week with Abby McDonald at the RaRaLinkup, Jennifer Dukes Lee at #TellHisStory, Holley Gerth at Coffee for Your Heart, Lyli Dunbar at ThoughtProvokingThursday, Crystal Storms at #HeartEncouragementThursday, Crystal Twaddell at FreshMarketFriday and Dawn Klinge at Grace & Truth.

29 Responses to What if We Make the Wrong Move?

  1. Lois, it is so easy to get trapped in “what could have been” and this is a refreshing and freeing message which actually is perfect timing for me. Thank you for this sweet reminder that God is always working things out for our good and this in never contingent on us being perfect.

  2. Lesley says:

    I’ve been there too with the “what ifs” and wondering if I’ve made the right choice. I’m grateful that God does know our hearts and that if we are seeking to follow him he will work it out and work everything together for good, even if it’s different from what we hoped or imagined.

    • Lois Flowers says:

      “Even if it’s different from what we hoped or imagined.” It so often is, isn’t it, Lesley? I’m thankful for those cases where I can look back and see that God’s way was much better … that helps when the answers are far less clear, I think. Thanks for stopping by this week!

  3. WOW did I need this today, Lois. We are in the midst of a very painful situation with my oldest daughter that is the result of a parenting mistake we made…that we weren’t sure was a mistake…that we were pretty sure wasn’t a mistake…that now we’re feeling pretty sure WAS a mistake. 😉 I’m so thankful for your reminder that God is gracious and big and compassionate, and that His loving heart knows our hearts. So glad to spend a little time here today…stopping by from Grace & Truth!

    • Lois Flowers says:

      Oh, Elizabeth! I’m so sorry. It’s hard, isn’t it? My stomach is hurting just thinking about the roller coaster you describe. I know parenting is a long-haul endeavor, but in middle of the crisis or repercussions or intense whatever, it seems like everything hinges on this one thing. Praying that God will give you wisdom, peace and comfort, my friend.

  4. Hi Lois,
    What an interesting question to ponder! I think the same things sometimes — the what ifs/would my life be different questions. So many significant decisions are difficult and could go either way so it’s interesting if one was wrong or right, but I think God can redirect us and bring us what we need at that time, even if it turned out not to be the best choice, or if questions linger. I enjoyed this post since I like to reflect on the past too and make sense of the present but just as you wrote, sometimes we just have to be content in not completely knowing!

    • Lois Flowers says:

      Valerie, I’ve been thinking about you this week and wondering if the hurricane was affecting you. I hope all is well. I think you’re right about God’s ability to redirect us. Unlike some impersonal GPS that “recalculates” our route when we make a wrong turn, His guidance is based on love for us and those around us. Like you said, He always provides what we need, even if it comes in a roundabout way due to our choices. I always appreciate your thoughtful perspective, my friend!

  5. Liz says:

    Great questions to ponder. But don’t get stuck wondering what if. You are so right. God can use all our decisions (the good, the bad, even the ugly) for His glory! Blessings!

  6. Kristina says:

    It is kinda like your own Job story. I sometimes ask myself that question a lot about choices that I have made that affect the rest of my life. But I can sense your peace and that’s important. thank you for the reminder. : ) Your neighbor at #tellhisstory

    • Lois Flowers says:

      Your mention of Job reminds me of something that helped me during those tough times, Kristina. We struggled, yes, but knowing others who were experiencing far greater loss and pain helped me keep things in perspective. It sounds kind of cliche, but it really did make a difference! Thank you for your kind words … it’s good to know that I’m not alone in this kind of pondering!

  7. Linda Stoll says:

    For all of us who’ve moved away from our roots, our friends, our family, all the dailyness that was so familiar and comforting … even as we yearned to break free …

    Well, this is a beautiful musing, Lois. The ‘I wonder’ moments come, yes, they do. And it’s ok.

    He never left our sides along the way … and I can’t help but believe that He has something just around the corner that just might explain some of the ‘whys.’

    Or not …

    • Lois Flowers says:

      Those last two little words are huge, aren’t they, Linda? I guess that’s where faith comes in, huh? Even if not, still we trust. I’m so glad to read your comment, my friend, hoping that it means you are feeling better each day. 🙂

  8. Somer says:

    I have had similar thoughts on a move we made. There are so many “what ifs?” If we hadn’t moved. Our move has been hard and the most difficult season of our lives happened. It’s painful and im still trying to see the why? I totally get your post! Thank you

    • Lois Flowers says:

      There’s comfort in knowing others have struggled with the same questions, isn’t there? I’m so sorry your move has been hard, Somer, and I hope that as time goes by, the purpose for the pain might be more evident. Thank you for stopping by this week!

  9. Ruth says:

    I’ve wondered in the past if a certain move that I made should have never happened and if it truly was the mistake it seemed to have been since it ended in disaster. But if I had not made that move, I would have missed out on some extremely precious blessings.
    Jesus said, “In this world you will have tribulation, but be of good cheer, for I have overcome the world.” And, James tells us to count it all joy when we fall into various trials because they will work in us endurance. I don’t think it does any good really to go back and second guess ourselves, especially when we were truly trying to follow the Lord’s leading. He will bless us no matter what with His presence and with His covenant love, and He will use the trials to conform us into the image of His Son.

    • Lois Flowers says:

      Well said, Ruth. Thanks so much for adding this perspective … these are all important insights that can definitely help us stay focused on what really matters in life. Not being comfortable, but being conformed into the image of Jesus.

  10. Lois, such quiet, simple truth here. We will probably never know what the other side of the decision would have looked like for our lives. It reminds me of Prince Caspian, the movie, when Lucy asks Aslan if things would have been different if she had followed him the first time she saw him. He told her we will never know what could have been. I think your mentor was right. God knows our hearts, and the intentions that go into our decisions. Wherever we are He will never abandon us. That’s a truth I find great comfort in.

    • Lois Flowers says:

      I remember that scene from Prince Caspian, Jeanne. I love every encounter between Lucy and Aslan (in the books and the movies), and this one is especially poignant. We’ll never know what could have been, but God does. And still He loves us. Thank you for these thoughtful words, my friend.

  11. Trudy says:

    I’m so sorry those what-ifs are plaguing you, Lois. They can really boggle our minds sometimes. I’m so glad God led you to the conclusion that He is faithful, He loves us, and everything that happens has been rooted in His good purposes. Thank you for sharing openly and for encouraging me today. Blessings and hugs to you!

    • Lois Flowers says:

      I think the what-ifs are behind me for now, Trudy, so I’m glad about that. 🙂 And this afternoon, my parents pointed out another benefit of us being here that I didn’t think of, and that is that my girls have gotten to know their grandparents very well, and vice versa. That is an immeasurable blessing, to be sure! Thank you for your faithful encouragement, my friend!

  12. Those what-ifs can make us a bit crazy, no? We exercise faith and wise judgement and trust that God is in the midst. Sometimes those “yes’s” and “no’s” can be downright hard to discern, but I know that looking back and wondering if I’d gone left vs. right only proves to raise questions I won’t be able to answer. In the end, I’m grateful for a God of grace who can work ALL things together for my good – even the things I mess up.

    As always, touched by your words and grateful that you’ve shared them. I’m relaunching my blog, so you’re invited to come over and join the celebration, friend. xoxo

    • Lois Flowers says:

      I will be looking forward to seeing where God takes you with your “new” blog, Tiffany. I am always encouraged and often gently challenged by what you write, and I appreciate it so much!

  13. Kristi Woods says:

    Lois, I love your honesty and transparency. Many of us have “been in the same boat” or at least a similar one. It’s encouraging to see conversation about it. It’s even more encouraging to see your final sentence, “And I’m choosing to be OK with that.” Sometimes that’s the best answer because that’s when we lean and continue to trust – regardless. #goJesus Visiting via #raralinkup.

    • Lois Flowers says:

      Thanks, Kristi. It’s comforting to know others have experienced the same kind of thing and come to similar conclusions … deciding to trust God despite the unanswered (and sometimes unanswerable) questions. So often, faith really boils down to that simple choice, doesn’t it?

  14. The sovereignty of God is a huge truth, and it’s one that I don’t always feel the weight of when I’m measuring past decisions or questioning the guidance I’ve received. Thank you for gently taking our faces and turning our eyes toward the God who does not make mistakes. He is faithful. He loves us. Our hearts can be ok.

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