Have you ever played that game? It’s a great icebreaker. You fill in the blank: I have never ________________________. To keep it simple, just go around the room, having each person share something they’ve never done. Or you can make an actual contest out of it. Everyone gets a predetermined number of tokens—like M&Ms. When someone says, for instance, “I have never been on an airplane,” you have to sacrifice a candy if you have, in fact, been on an airplane.
Here’s one of mine: I have never mowed a lawn. I grew up with two brothers who took care of it—fought over it, actually. The same can be said with every place I’ve lived since … and there’ve been dozens thanks to my tendency to move a lot. Yet every time my house or apartment had a yard, someone else was more than willing to mow, leaving me free to enjoy the scent of fresh-cut grass.
My current home is an exception. I’ve lived here for several years now and since the yard is tiny, I’ve mostly hired local high schoolers to mow it. Not too long ago, my sister, Kris, moved her belongings into my garage while she was house hunting. As we unloaded her lawnmower—something I don’t own—my other sister, Susie, said, “I’ll mow your yard while I’m here.”
Well, I thought, here’s my chance. She’ll show me what to do and I’ll take care of my own lawn and it will no longer be on my “never” list. So, after a short tutorial, I grabbed the handle and gave it a push. The machine went two inches—maybe—and coughed to a halt. It just died. No matter what we did, the thing refused to come back to life.
And so, I have still never mowed a lawn. We all had a good laugh over it, especially when it worked fine once Kris got it to her new place.
Other things on my “I have never …” list aren’t so funny, though, and some are hard to admit, even to myself.
- I have never … been “in love.” Oh, I have liked and wanted and romanticized about a few good men and even thought I was in love with one. But he didn’t want me, so I choose to believe it wasn’t true love. My hopeful heart can’t bear the thought that my love wasn’t returned, so I tell myself I just liked him. A lot.
- I have never … been pregnant. This one is closely related to the first but, in several ways, more devastating. Falling in love will always be possible. Having a baby gets more and more unlikely each day. Doctors would say that at my age it’s not going to happen, yet I stubbornly cling to what little dregs of hope I have left.
- And, adding insult to injury, being pregnant hasn’t ever been possible because I have never participated in the act required for such a condition. Yes, I mean sex. Never. Never, ever, ever. Each passing year this becomes harder to admit because it’s like a neon sign flashing my undesirability. And I recently realized I will, most likely, need a menopause test without ever needing a pregnancy one.
We don’t plan to have these nevers in our lives. In fact, up until a few years ago, I saw these desires as somedays. The dream was possible. “I will … in God’s timing.” It’s like I was climbing the Mountain of Wish Fulfillment, expecting to, eventually, reach the top. Until one day I realized I must have missed it somehow and am now standing here, looking back, still saying, “I have never …”
Fortunately, I’ve realized it’s what we dwell on that defines us. So yes, I can wallow in my nevers, deciding that’s who I am, or I can start making an “I have …” list. Because who am I, really?
One of my favorite movie lines is “It’s time for you to decide what you believe.” Yes, it’s spoken by the villain to Indiana Jones in The Last Crusade, but it’s still relevant to my life on a daily basis. I have to decide what I believe about myself. Even more importantly, I have to decide what I believe about God.
If I believe He loves me and has put me where I am, as I am, then these nevers are irrelevant.
- I have … accepted His love.
- I have … taken my place as a child of God.
- I have … all I need.
And I have never… been so content.