I have a small person in my household, who will remain nameless, who is very keen on all upcoming plans. She used to ask “Mom, is anything special happening today?” EVERY. single. day. I finally had to break the news that I was not her personal resident cruise director and that, in fact, we all had a whole lot of “regular life” to live, much to her disappointment. It is rather disappointing to wake up every day and realize you’re still not a Disney princess. And that we’re still not going to Disney world. #firstworldkidproblems
If I’m honest with myself, my little person comes by that trait honestly. I’m always looking ahead and anticipating whatever fun might be on the horizon. I tend to be a futuristic thinker. “Won’t it be great when….” or “Things will slow down after….” Those statements are a trick. Although they may be slightly true sometimes (I’ve yet to see that in my life, but hey, maybe for someone out there), what they represent is not at all helpful. Let me explain.
A lot of us spend our lives “workin’ for the weekend” or looking forward to the next whatever-it-is. For me, it’s usually a hot date (with my husband of 8 years), a girls night out, or even an afternoon alone at a coffee shop. Those things aren’t bad, and in fact they’re a very necessary part of a healthy life for me. But sometimes I get so focused on the next fun thing, I miss out on the fun thing I’m currently doing. Playing tag. Making a blanket fort. Watching my daughters navigate the stormy seas of our living room in their laundry-basket-boat. Sitting next to my hot date in our sweats on the couch, eating Costco gelato (which is being discontinued, by the way. Consider this both a PSA and a case in point of why we should soak up the moments while we have them. They are fleeting, people. Carpe gelato. Carpe ALL of it, before it’s gone!).
And on a bigger scale, in the phases of our lives, I always have my eye on the next season. I watch those bare winter branches like a hawk, almost willing them to bud. I used to go into mini-depression when I felt the crisp air of fall, not because I hate fall, but because it nodded in the direction of winter, my nemesis. Now I see the ridiculous folly of that mindset, and I’m slowly changing my thought patterns. I truly love fall, so I soak it up now. It’s gorgeous, and I’m so glad I live in a place where I get to experience it. To me, it feels like a whole season of giving thanks. When I spot the first golden leaf, my heart swells with gratitude, and my whole outlook changes on that first day I have to pull out a jacket.
Even winter doesn’t invite the same dread as it used to. I love all the gathering and celebrating and eating we do leading up to Christmas. I love sitting in front of the Christmas tree, praying by twinkle light. I love that new, clean, fresh start feeling I get when we take the tree down in January. I love snow days where I can stay in my slippers and delight my kids with hot chocolate. I love a book in my hand, and soup on the stove.
I’m learning to appreciate all seasons, instead of wishing them away.
I miss out when I’m constantly looking to the next thing. I lose the glory and wonder of the moment I’m in when I only focus on one that’s coming. I need to learn the art of finding God in the now. I’m an expert on the “not yet”–oh yes, there’s a litany of things I could hone in on to demonstrate the Kingdom isn’t quite here in its fullness yet. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see the lack, the brokenness, the wrongness of our world, but I also want to be one who draws attention to what’s right and beautiful. “Whatever is pure, whatever is lovely…” —those things. I want to be one who searches out and celebrates the sparkle and wonder that is God at work in our lives. I want to be one who proclaims and announces the redemptive, creative, good work of God in the every day.
It can take a little more digging to see God in the little moments of toddler tantrums, taping ripped library books, and presentation preparation. It’s easy to look past the cooking (of which, to be fair, I do very little of), the bathing, the storytime to some new excitement on the horizon. But God is here in my very here and now. He loves to sneak in during unexpected times and surprise me.
It’s a horrible habit, this constantly side glancing at the next season, hoping and anticipating: “Maybe that’s when I’ll really catch my stride! Maybe that’s when I’ll really start to soar.” Here’s the thing, I’ve heard people talk about being in their “bullseye”, and I admit that I’m always a bit jealous. But you know what? Even if I never discover that elusive bullseye, I’m going to use what I’ve got now. I may never see my bullseye the way I’d like to, but I’ll see a thousand opportunities to rejoice. I may never truly feel like I “hit my stride”, but that won’t hold me back from joining in on what God is doing. What an absolute privilege.
So I’m purposing today, this fall, this advent season, this upcoming year, to be all in exactly where I am. I’m choosing to fully reside in each moment I’m given and feel deeply grateful for it. I want to invest all I am today and hold nothing back for tomorrow, because really, we can’t ever count on tomorrow. I will look around at the faces in front of me now, and breathe a “thank you”. I’m going to pour myself out until I’m “wonderfully exhausted,” and expect God to come in the midst of it. The truth is, he already has.