Monday, June 17, 2024
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When Controlling Your Life Hurts Your Future

I’ve lived a life built on “What If’s.” And living a “What If” life was slowly killing me.

What if I never make more than I do right now?

What if I do…

What if I never fulfill my life purpose?

What if I exceed my every expectation…

What if I never find community?

What if I develop rich community…

Anxiety, constant planning and an ever-looming dark cloud of depression are a few of the side effects of my “What If” lifestyle. I’ve had the notion that if I plan just right, happiness will surely follow me. Well it didn’t.

In living this type of life, I’ve found happiness to be elusive. My plan never happened. In fact, most of the time my spotless plan — so desperately fought for — was subpar to what actually happened.  You may think, “That’s great that better came along!” The only thing is, I have spent all my energy being concerned. Not to mention restless nights spent on my “What If’s.” I grew tired. Not only was I tired, but when victory came my way, I didn’t see provision or success; I saw a new list of to-do’s. I saw a new list of “What If’s.”

Then there is my lovely husband. Ever-present and focused on what’s right in front of him. Life seems more basic for him. Yes, he has his own struggles, but they are present struggles, not potential struggles. He understands the future will happen, but believes making the best choices with what’s in front of us will take care of this unknown future. This is nerve-wracking for a “What If” person. You mean I don’t have full control? My carefully penned 3-to-5-year plan is not set in stone? It’s scary too, because what if my current choice leads me down the wrong road? A road I never intended to travel? But what if doing my best today leads me to a life far better then ever expected? Is that a possibility too?

Well, God is good — incredibly so. And a few months ago He began to speak to me about the concept of vision. And that it greatly differs from planning. For sake of time, I am not going to dive into vision-casting today. But I do want to give you my brief distinction between vision and a plan.

Vision: Something grand. A 30,000 foot view. Details are undetectable. A vision gives you purpose.

Plan: Details! A step-by-step guide to do something.

God has revealed that once the vision is cast, you can start drawing roadmaps that show how to get there! Allow for surprises, missteps, unknown adventures and pitstops along the way. They will happen, and they are what color our lives and make us who we are. Surrender the details (plans) to the One who gave them to you in the first place, and let Him put the puzzle pieces in their place. He is a master puzzle maker.

I am still in process, and my goodness, am I messy! But here are a few things that are radically impacting my “What If” lifestyle. These steps are irradiating fear, questions and doubt and exchanging them for hope, answers and belief!

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight. –Proverbs 3:5-6


The first step to quieting fears is adopting a lifestyle of trust. Let go of control. Step outside of your tiny box. You no longer fit in it! Trust that God is good. God is for you. Trust that He knows how to cultivate and develop the details of your life. He is the master puzzlemaker. And He does have the master plans for your life. Dream, desire and cast vision, then partner with the Lord and watch Him place every detail. He will cross every t and dot every i.


Take a moment to spend time with your heart and soul. Invite them into this new lifestyle of trust. Invite them into a conversation. Ask them these questions:

What areas in your life are being held back by “What If’s?”

What choices have you not been making because of “What If’s?”

What choices can you make now? How can you take action? What makes you feel alive?


You’ve chosen to trust. You’ve cast your vision. You are ready for freedom from the “What If” lifestyle. Now you must take risks. WHAT!? You mean I have to just try now? Yes, you need to jump. You need to move toward your wants. Sometimes that jump can be huge — like the day I chose to move to LA without a job and without a plan — or sometimes your jump may look more like a step — like having a bold conversation with a person that you have been putting off. But take a step, a jump. Run toward life. Say yes to what’s in front of you. You will trip and fall. But fall forward and learn, grow and develop from every moment that appears to be a setback.


No matter how big or small, celebrate yourself. Acknowledge the importance of each step you take! Did you jump and not land on two feet? Celebrate the fact that you jumped. Celebrate your choice to fully engage and participate with life. Success or failure, you are trying, and that deserves all the celebration in the world. And bring others into your celebrations! Allow others to speak life into every victory and every perceived failure. Make sure you place yourself around people who run after life and encourage you to do the same! I believe celebration is an incredibly powerful tool for building the you, the future and the life you want!

I’m accepting that my life is not yet a complete puzzle. I am okay with this. In fact … I might even be excited. Joy is returning, dreams are awakening, new doors are opening!

I’m excited for this new season of surrender, of exploration and of trust. May my struggles and current process let you know that you are not alone, and it’s okay to be messy. Believe in your future. Believe in yourself.

I want to know your experience with “What If’s.” Share your thoughts, your questions, your journey below and let’s have a conversation.

Shelby Harveaux

Shelby currently resides in LA with her husband, Miller. She is passionate about living life to the fullest, never settling. She believes in the power of being in process and not running away from messy. She believes that the world can be radically impacted by one individual walking in their truest identity. Her greatest desire is to see people, including herself, pursuing life daily. She believes life shouldn’t happen to us, but rather we should happen to life!

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