But What If You Didn’t?

October 21, 2013

I used to have this really strange tick when I was younger. I can’t remember exactly how or why it started, but sometime around the age of 7 I started convincing myself that I needed to “reset” my knee every few steps. So, I would be walking somewhere and every couple steps I took, I would pull my knee back up to my butt in order to do the necessary resetting.

I honestly don’t even know. It just was.

Later that year, I headed off to the doctor for my annual checkup and, in true 7-year-old imaginative fashion, I was convinced I would be sent in for knee surgery, surely never to run or play again. I went in boldly bracing myself for the worst kind of answer to my undeniable problem.

After all the typical pokes and prods, my white-haired, sweet-natured doctor asked me, “So Caroline, tell me what else you’d like to talk about today.”

“Well, I have this knee problem,” I explained. “Every few steps, I have to rest it or it feels all weird and wrong.” I went on to explain how this wasn’t a choice I was making; I was being compelled, even begged, by my knee to do exactly as I was doing to help manage the problem.


When I was done, she softly smiled, looked right in my eyes and said,

But what if you didn’t?”

To date, that possibly could be one of the most profound lessons I carry from my childhood years. Because, well, I took her advice and tried to stop. And totally beside myself in amazement, it actually worked.

I stopped doing what I was doing. And when I did that, the tick went away – never to beg or compel me again. It was pure, tangible freedom for a child.

The truth is, we all have those ticks in life. They’re the places we feel so compelled to respond a certain way – maybe in insecurity, rejection, intimidation, or plain fear – that we are convinced we can do nothing about it. It’s the times when that comment is spoken, look is given, or plan is made that our tick goes into full effect, so irresistible to us that we feel as though the only answer is to give in one more time.

We can be so compelled by the tick, the response in our lives, that we eliminate all our own freedom of choice. We make ourselves the victim long before anything else does. And there we give in, over and over… and over again.

Can you relate?

And those words that day, spoken to me as a 7 year-old child, are still stuck in my head. Because every time we feel so compelled to surrender, the question to ask is, “But what if you didn’t?”


What if you didn’t camp out at that dark place, that rejected or insecure cave? What if you didn’t take that text or picture as a message that you’re not wanted or loved? What if you chose to stop yourself before you go down that ugly road?

Really, what if you just didn’t?

Because with each time you don’t, you gain a voice back into your decisions. You actually move yourself out of a place of victimization and into a place of empowerment. You start living the life you want to live because you decided for yourself you’re not submitting to the old pattern anymore. When you change your habit, you’re taking control of your feelings and responses and bringing them right back into where they are meant to be – under the Spirit’s presence.

It won’t be easy. In fact, it’ll be a fight that you must repeat again and again. But one day, not too far off, you may just find yourself awaking thinking back to that “thing you used to do.”

Today is Monday, the beginning of a brand new week. It’s the perfect day to bring life back into dead and ugly places by deciding that you’re just not doing that anymore.


So what it is for you? What’s the thing you constantly go to and are so convinced you must keep doing to the point that you feel you have lost the battle all together? Feel free to share below as a way of declaring yourself into a new place today.

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  • Reply ashley higgins October 21, 2013 at 11:33 am

    needed this encouragement and charge today.
    love you, caro!

  • Reply Ericka J. October 21, 2013 at 12:58 pm

    Phenomenal advice Caroline – so, so good! So many people need to read this!

    My “tick” is a debilitating spirit of fear. It took almost 2 years of retraining my heart and mind not to give in… not to dwell on the negative thoughts… not to play out the “worst case scenario” in my mind before it went away. Every now and then though it will rear its ugly head and I will have to choose again. But in choosing “not to go there” I have found freedom and joy and peace!

    I’m sure there are so many others trapped in their “tick”… their negativity… their fear. It’s an addiction really, and it must be broken! Praying they read this and have the strength to choose a different response today!

    • Reply Caroline October 21, 2013 at 7:49 pm

      That’s beautiful, Ericka! Just like you said, it’s a choice every single day to do something different. But the life reaped from it is unbelievable. Thanks for sharing!!

  • Reply Vanessa O. October 21, 2013 at 2:04 pm

    So So So Great Caroline…thanks!

    • Reply Caroline October 21, 2013 at 7:49 pm

      Thanks so much, Vanessa! 🙂

  • Reply Pridge October 21, 2013 at 2:20 pm

    Wow Caroline. This was like an arrow shot straight at my heart today. Earlier in the afternoon I had a moment where I stopped in frustration and prayed, “God, why am I controlled by so much fear?!” I think I’ve been trying to prove to God that I’m worth keeping around when He already has promised never to leave or forsake me.

    • Reply Caroline October 21, 2013 at 7:50 pm

      I love hearing what He is doing in your life! Thanks so much for sharing Pridge! 🙂

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