Five Minute Friday: ONLY

Welcome to this week’s Five Minute Friday. Our instructions, via creator Kate Motaung: “Write for five minutes on the word of the week. This is meant to be a free write, which means: no editing, no over-thinking, no worrying about perfect grammar or punctuation.”

Today’s prompt: ONLY

Five Minute Friday

I have been feeling many “if only’s” lately.

(Caveat: I know this is raw writing but that’s the way I roll.)

If only I had done something more lucrative right out of school and built a bigger financial base (even if I didn’t love it).

If only I had made different choices about spending, debt, finances.

If only we hadn’t committed to such a huge  house that we now have to sell, as I sweat out being able to give my kids and family a modicum of a holiday.


I have been listening to “Well” — a book by Sarah Thebarge — about her several-month stint doing volunteer work as a physician’s assistant in Togo.

One day, after two of her patients had died of conditions that would most likely  not have been fatal in the US, she found herself at the end ….. she wrote:

“I was out of determination, out of energy, out of motivation … out of hope.” (Note of irony: she was volunteering at a place called the “Hospital of Hope.”

She went on to say:

“I was completely depleted, completely out of reasons to keep going.”

Although I know objectively HOW MUCH I have, I also know I face the consequences of the choices I made over the last decades.

They keep me from traveling as much as I would like to, from giving generously to the causes I love (one of the reasons I try to make up for it in time and energy), from giving the people I love the things I want to give them.

I have composed letters in my head to my kids “don’t let the lack of ‘stuff’ this year make you think you aren’t loved.” I probably won’t send them.

I only wish I could make peace with the choices I made years ago for which I am paying now.

Additional Note: Sarah is now providing medical training in Sudan. Please read more about her work here, pray for her, and consider donating to the cause.


Five Minute Friday

This post is part of the weekly Five Minute Friday linkup.

11 thoughts on “Five Minute Friday: ONLY

  1. Thanks for sharing Sarah’s story. I’ve been thinking a lot about abundanc and what that looks like. Your post made me think of it again for some reason. What do we have? What do we need? I get so caught up in the “if only” too, friend.

    • I want everyone to read her book (I loved her first book too (The Invisible Girls) — it was extraordinary in its own right). This one is hitting me right in the feels — tonight I was listening to a passage about communion and it was phenomenal. I know it’s a contrast that I *still* am fretting about material things while highlighting her work — I suppose life is full of contrasts, right? Thank you for stopping by. <3

  2. Paula, for what it’s worth, I have a cure for If Only right here, and her name is Bella. She is a toto-like terrier whom we found drowning in a water-filled ditch, her back deliberately broken, tossed out to die.

    Today she hops around, pushing off one good hind leg (her spinal cord wasn’t severed), chasing Pit Bulls into whining submission.

    Had I not gotten sick, had my career not evaporated, had my dreams of being a writer come true…we would not have been in the right place at the right time to save her.

    She’s worth it, and I don’t look back.

    • You certainly have a point (and one of our cats is named Bella – fun coincidence!). I realize we couldn’t have taken care of my father-in-law (easily) in our former house and as much as I hate cliches, everything DOES happen for a reason. Thank you for the perspective — send you lots of love and prayers.

  3. Oh, the imperfections. It seems that as I get older I am more aware of my flaws & sins. But then we have to let it go and let the Lord do his work through us, a day at a time. I’m your FMF neighbor.

    • You are right, Carol. Sometimes I worry about being too transparent/candid in my writing, but many times I have found relief in knowing that others face similar struggles so maybe this will help someone else know they are not along in wrestling with decisions that can’t be unmade.

    • Oh, I especially get that! I love acting and did lots of volunteer work with our local film school, behind and in front of the camera. I’ll never have the chops to get paid for it but I do love it and would go without some financial security to pursue it further!

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