This phrase has been running around my head lately: He’s not the one that got away. Did you catch that “not” I slid in there? I thought about it one night when I was cooking and listening to the Civil Wars. Their song “The One that Got Away” came on and got me thinking. The song talks about forbidden love, saying “I wish you were the one that got away” and what it’s like to not be able to let go of that person. As I peeled my carrots and listened, I realized I’m fortunate that I’ve never been in a relationship like the one the song describes, wishing that person had gotten away. Then, this truth struck me: No one in my life did get away, at least, not in the sense this phrase entails.
Saying “he’s the one that got away” is like saying “he’s the one I should have been with and then something went wrong and got us off track.” I’ve wondered this before of course, and I’m assuming most of us have when a relationship ends. Did I miss something? Was that a mistake to let him go? Did I do enough to keep him around? Will he be the one that got away?
These questions can make you absolutely nuts. And they don’t apply only to relationships. We ask it about everything. I remember taking forever to decide where I was going to go for graduate school. I was choosing between two schools that were basically exactly the same, just located in different cities. And when I finally chose, I immediately wondered if the one I didn’t choose would be the school that got away. If not going there meant missing out on God’s blessings and will for my life.
Maybe you’ve wondered if that was the job opportunity that got away or the move that got away or the apartment that got away. Whatever it is, I stand here today (because who knows how I will feel about this tomorrow) and can confidently say to you, it’s not. He’s not. She’s not. Whatever it is, if it is no longer a part of your life or an option for you, it didn’t get away; it went away.
In the Bible, we are taught about seasons in life and God’s sovereignty in the same scripture: “He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also, he has put eternity into man’s heart, yet so that he cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end” (Ecclesiastes 3:11).
The best way to attempt to overrule God’s timing and plan is to say that something in our lives got away, as if it were a mistake or an accident. I think we can really mean it when we say this. I know I have. I have felt so ridden and full of regret I was certain I had made a wrong decision. I was certain he/it was the one that got away and that I had derailed myself too far this time. But never has this thought brought me peace and never has it propelled me forward, and this is how I’ve grown so convinced that he, it and they did not get away. Because even in stating that, we stray. Even in wondering and questioning the past, we got lost in it.
The people and opportunities in our lives didn’t get away; they went away because it was time for them to. Our job now is to keep our gaze forward. The light, as they say, is at the end of the tunnel.