The other day, while I was on a Pinterest-inspired search for a particular set of organizational tips, I stumbled across the following sponsored ad and it made me laugh so much I saved a screenshot of it:
It cracked me up, the way they’ve phrased the add to inspire people to click yes. Say no and the ad forces you to metaphorically say it out loud: “No, I don’t want to live my life to the fullest. I want to be stuck right where I am, miserable and complaining.”
Sadly, though, I think we all fall guilty to this type of thinking, albeit subconsciously.
I am by nature a planner. My supervisor once called me a macro-micro visionary: I create a plan and then I immediately work on figuring out the details to make that “one day” plan a reality. Most of the time, this is a boon. I always have some project or goal on the horizon: I’m rarely content without one. My mind is better when it’s occupied.
However, the peril of being a daydreamer and a vision-maker and a project-planner is that most of your thoughts are perpetually focused on what’s coming next: what is the next step to x or y or z? How long will I have to wait until [fill in the blank here]? When will [insert upcoming neat thing] happen?
It is easy to view the time-between-times as waiting. But it’s not waiting; it’s life. Recently, a colleague and I were laughing at how we’ve been marking the time lately. Back in November, we said, “Well, in January, maybe things will calm down.” In January we said, “It’s been wild, but probably in March…” And in March we said, “In summer, we’ll relax a little.” And now, in June, I’m thinking, “Maybe in July…”
I often approach time that way: the now is what I have to put up with until the later, where all the good things will be. Now is busy; later will be calm. Now is hot, but later will be cool. Now I’m tired, but later when I take those vacation days, I won’t be. And most people do this. We all do it. I guarantee you that at some point you have done it.
Once this pandemic is over, I’ll…
Well now everything is a pain, but soon, I’ll…
The truth is, however, that this mode of thinking puts us in a mode of forever waiting on later and not realizing that now is our life. Now is what we are being given! It isn’t just the precursor to what comes next or the thing that we endure to get to the good part. Now matters. Now can teach us. Now is created by God and given by God. Now is made for our benefit, by God.
When we forget this or deny it, we become the people I’m gently poking fun at above: “No, I do not want to live my life to the fullest. I am going to wait until later and then live life to the fullest.”
The question, really, is this: what does your fullest, richest, life look like right now, without later?
What will it take to make your life deeper, richer, more meaningful during a pandemic? While you’re waiting on vacation in July? When work is crazy? When the kids are going through a phase? What has God given that will allow you to lean in to the current moment and embrace it and be present for it? Where are God’s gifts today? What is the nature of His blessing today?
I’m not a “name in and claim it” believer. I do not believe that parroting an affirmation like “today will be good and I will be happy” will make it be so. But Scripture does teach us that words have power; that our thoughts influence our attitudes and behaviors; that what is uplifting, righteous, and holy is never wrong to dwell on and can only influence us positively. So to live life fully and richly and embrace whatever the in-between period is while you are waiting for the next good thing, what might it look like to speak with gratitude, praise, and graciousness? To excise complaint and negativity from your mouth, or to simply be silent, if you can’t?
I welcome you into the coming week and I hope that if you are waiting for something awesome to come along, you can turn to your “now” and nonetheless embrace it wholly and fully, committed in God to living as deep and rich a life as He allows with what is granted today.