See this wall?
It’s a pretty large blank wall.
It looks sad.
Every night before I fall asleep, I look at this wall and think, “I should really do something with this wall.” But then, I always talk myself out of it by saying, “Nah, we’re going to move soon anyways. I’ll just wait.”
I’ve been saying this for almost six years.
Now, to be fair, there’ve been a few times where we really could have moved by now. After two years, when RJ finished his initial training, but then we stayed for RJ to continue his training, and because I started graduate school. After four years, when RJ finished all of his staff training, but then I was locked into this contract with Los Angeles County. After five years, when my contract was fulfilled, but then we decided for me to finish my hours for MFT licensure at my current job. Almost six years later, we’re still here and the wall is still blank.
Such a sad, sad wall, waiting all this time to fulfill it’s purpose and potential in displaying pictures to creepily face our marriage bed, while adding beauty to our room. So many wasted years.
It’s not just this wall, though. How many other areas of my life have I wasted, not fully investing or living life to the full in the present because I’m constantly waiting and looking forward to the future?
Relative to many of my non-Christian friends, I married early. But relative to many of my Christian friends, I feel like I married late. Having been surrounded by mostly Christians during my season as a single woman, when others would ask how I was doing, my go-to response would almost always be this: “I’m just learning how to wait well with God.”
What I really meant was, “I’m just waiting patiently until God drops a husband into my life and then I can live happily ever after.”
In the few years between college and meeting RJ, I was constantly on the lookout for said husband. “Well, that guy was nice and he’s cute, maybe it’s him? Wait, no, okay, not him. Maybe it’s this guy. Wait, not him as well?? Man, waiting is hard. No, wait! Waiting well, I’m supposed to wait well!! Okay, God, I will trust you with my whole life, it is all Yours and I am giving it all to You and I will wait as long as You ask me to for You to bring a godly man into my– wait, maybe this is the guy??”
And so I squandered my years as a single woman, constantly looking forward to “the next big thing,” failing to fully enjoy my years of singleness and appreciate the friendships around me. Later, I would do the same thing when RJ and I began dating, not fully living in the present or appreciating our season of dating, but constantly looking forward to and pushing towards the next season of life, marriage. And again with work, when I thought, “What’s the point of making lasting friendships here if I’m just going to be gone in a year?” And yet again with our home, “Why lay down roots if we are just passing through?”
So many wasted years. So many squandered opportunities. So many missed connections. So many regrets.
Now granted, I did end up getting married to a furry faced, delectable cookie of a man, and in the grand scheme of life, I didn’t have to wait long. But what if I never did? How long would I continue living in this way, with my mind consumed with the “next big thing”? How many more years and opportunities would I allow to vainly pass me by?
Somewhere along the line, we’ve subconsciously bought into the lie that, oh man, this next stage, that’s the best to come, it’s going to be so much more rockin’ than what’s going on now. Mainstream culture and our communities can also perpetuate this way of thinking and living.
Take, for example, Facebook. When you are single, the ads on the sidebar are usually for dating websites. When you are dating, for engagement rings and weddings. When you are married, for babies. It’s all quite literally thrown in your face. They point to the next big thing, capitalizing on any ounce of discontentment you may harbor in the moment, drawing our eyes away from our lives to be lived now. And we buy into it.
Or within our communities. As soon as a friend starts dating, we rush in to ask, “Can you see yourself marrying them?” Or as soon as a friend gets married (or, say, perhaps, is an older woman with expiring eggs who has been married for almost seven years), the next question is, “So when are you having babies?” And what’s communicated is very clear: “Your life right now is incomplete as it is. It is incomplete until you get to the next step. You need to get to the next step.” Except when you get to the next step, you’re met with the same message, and next thing you know, the next step you’re facing is death, and you’ve missed out on life.
“Whoa. Now that’s a little extreme and over-dramatic, Alice.”
Is it, though?
Listen, friends. We have one life to live. I’m 33 this year, one third of my life has flown by. YOLO. For reals. We got to make the most of it.
Now I’m not saying don’t plan ahead for the future. I’m not telling you to remain stagnant. Be faithful in moving forward. But wherever you are, slow down and take a deep breath. Take in the beauty of your surroundings and of your circumstances and of the people around you. If you are planted for a season, lay down some roots and enjoy the moment. You are exactly where God has intended for you to be in this very moment. Don’t get so caught up in the destination that you forget to live through the journey.
Whatever your relationship status is, or your job situation, or your school situation, or your career path, or the status of baby-making (empty oven guys, sorry), wherever you are living, whatever season you are in, live well, live fully, live freely, and wait on God to do His thing, whatever it may be. As a community, encourage one another to do the same. That is waiting well. That is living well.
So yeah…this wall situation. Maybe I’ll put something up this weekend?
Nah, I’ll just wait. We’re probably going to move anyways.
Just kidding, I’ll find something this weekend.
What do you think we should do with this wall? And do you ever feel like you’re not living well because you keep looking to the next big thing?