I once read a story of a woman who anticipated her life away. She couldn’t wait to be 16 so she could drive. Then she got a little older, and she looked forward to graduating from college. In college, she met a guy and she couldn’t wait to marry him. Then she couldn’t wait to have kids. When they were babies, she looked forward to the day when she could send them to school so she could have a little freedom. Once they were in school, she couldn’t wait until they were older, more self-sufficient. And then she anticipated the day when they would go to college and leave the nest so she could have time again for her husband and herself. After they spent part of their retirement traveling, she anticipating each next stop, they came home and settled down. She couldn’t wait for grandkids. Years passed. She spent her time with them by anticipating each next step.
But then she found herself in her 80s. There wasn’t much to expect anymore, and she found this: that what she remembered about her life wasn’t the memories, per se, but the fact that she’d anticipated everything. She’d been waiting so hard for each new step that she didn’t take the time to savor and remember each step as it was. She’d spent her life in a tilt position – leaning forward, reaching for the future. Until there wasn’t much future left. She found she wanted to remember her past and look back over her life, but she couldn’t.
This, my friends, is what can happen if you don’t live in the moment enough. I’m a slightly impatient person. I like to think I’m patient, which I am, until I have something to wait for. Then I have a very hard time savoring my life as it is and I tend to focus on the future, what is coming.
The truth is that until the end of our lives, when all we have to anticipate is death, we will have something to wait for. We tend to look forward, over the horizon, to the next best thing. The next step will be ever so much better than the one we’re in, we think. But you know? It isn’t really. It may seem like it before you’re there. But this type of waiting is actually a sign of discontentment. There’s something new coming up, something better, so much better than now. So we fast forward now as much as we can and live in the future.
But, my dears, once you are there, do you think you’ll stop the anticipation? We start young and build a habit out of it. Can’t wait to be double digits. Can’t wait to be a teenager. Can’t wait to be 16. Can’t wait to be 18. Can’t wait to graduate college. Before you know, you will have wished your life away, just like the woman in my illustration above.
Are better times ahead? It depends on how you look at it. For some of you who are going through trials and hard times, hopefully so. For the others who aren’t, and are just waiting for a milestone, maybe not. Life has its ups and downs, but it’s always life. There will be better times with harder times.
Learn what you can from your present. Enjoy it. Savor it. Because once you have passed your present, you will never be there again.
God has given each and every one of us a wonderful life. Sometimes it seems like it’s pretty bad. Other times He overwhelms us with His blessings. Be content where you are, my friends. Waiting and anticipation are not sins, but if you wait too much, it may become discontentment.
Right now, I’m in a period of waiting in my life. And there are periods of time in our lives where we are in a phase of waiting. Once we have passed this phase, life generally changes as we know it. So if you are in a time of waiting, my advice to you from the same position is to savor it. I know it doesn’t always feel like a time to savor. But don’t wish it away. Times of waiting can teach us great patience and contentment if we let God do His work in our hearts.
Anne Shirley was famous for her bends in the roads. Are you approaching one now? Beware of the potholes of discontentment and impatience. Skirt them carefully. The scenery around the bend may appear brighter, but the road may be bumpier.
Keep your lantern, and your rod and staff handy as you approach this bend. Do not leave them behind. They become more valuable the farther you go on, and, my friends, take the time to gaze at the scenery where you are.