Focus on Where You Are, Not Where You Wish You Were
Sometimes, contentment is as simple as a change in focus.
Are you in the middle of God’s story for you? The middle is a tough place. Between the hope of starting out and the relief of the finish line, the middle part of the journey can be dry, stagnant and lonely. You might feel as if nothing’s happening. You might be longing for a different season. You might be waiting for a promise to appear, when you can’t even see its figure in the distance.
Somewhere we got the idea that the only things that really matter in life, are the “big” things: finding a college, finding a career, finding a spouse, moving to a new city. Many points in our lives are speckled with significant events. But in-between them lies a long, airport-like stretch of ordinary days: work, coffee with a friend, eating meals, time with family. In fact, sometimes the ordinary seems to drain the real sense of life right out of us.
Of course, praying wholeheartedly and waiting for results makes it rougher. You might feel like that kid in school staring at the clock as each second ticks, but the minute hand barely moves an inch.
So how can we experience some kind of joy in this interim place? And is that really what it is?
Learn to Practice Gratitude.
The Bible says, “This is the day the Lord as made, let us rejoice and be glad in it.” Clearly, we are intended by God to enjoy each day. He treats each day as a specially delivered gift. Our job is to intentionally unwrap it and recognize what we can be grateful for. Right now.
Just because you are accustomed to your daily routine does not mean it can’t be experienced as the blessing it is. It doesn’t mean you can’t see it with renewed eyes.
Anyone can become grateful for a hundred different things they have. Even the ability to breathe or see well can be a source of thankfulness. If we choose to notice and appreciate what is already given, we can honor God and make life more enjoyable.
We all want those special future blessings that life can offer us. But just because they’re truly wonderful, doesn’t mean that what we have now isn’t. There are all different types of blessings. Each is meant to be appreciated for what they uniquely bring to your life.
Appreciate the Process.
Pastor John Ortberg has written this: “What we wait for is not nearly as important as what happens to us while we’re waiting.” Did you ever consider that waiting could be so productive?
Look at it this way, if we all got what we want, when we wanted it, we might not become more than demanding children. However, since God’s desire is to mature us, He might use the crucible of waiting in our best interest—so that we can learn, develop our character and be able to receive more abundance.
How many lessons have you learned in the past five years that you didn’t see coming? Aren’t there ways (even small ones) you’ve changed that you didn’t expect to? Surprising things happen in us and for us during the waiting period. And sometimes we don’t even recognize the vital shift that occurred deep within us.
But while this time includes waiting, it’s not all about waiting. It’s not the time before your life begins. If you approach it that way, you’ll fail to be fully present now—unable to be happy, appreciate what you have and learn from it. While you may be waiting for certain things, you will always wait for certain things, even when you end up getting what you want now. Turn your thoughts instead to what you have now, and you’ll be able to find more in it.
Remember That There is a Proper Time for Everything.
The Bible says, “There’s a time for everything. A season for every purpose under heaven.”
Today is your time to experience certain relationships and events. Ones that won’t come again, or that will change in form. Use this time to appreciate them so that you can look back without regrets.
Some people get so unnerved by waiting, they rush on ahead of God, making plans that—if they’re honest with themselves—they don’t feel completely peaceful about.
Even the things we are meant to have are assigned for a specific time. What if the patriarchs of our faith—Abraham, Joseph and David—all received their promises years ahead of time? I have to assume it wouldn’t have been a good thing. After all, God purposed and used every step before then to bring about a season in which the promise could come and flourish.
“God has made everything beautiful in its time.”
Josh Harris once said, “The right thing at the wrong time is the wrong thing.” Consider that next time you feel impatience tug at you. And be glad that God is doing—and is going to do—what is right and beautiful.
Notice also that the verse says everything is made beautiful. That means that this time is beautiful, just as your future is. It might be beautiful in a different way—it may contain different lessons, and will bless you in different ways—but it’s still just as beautiful.
It all comes down to this: We can determine if today is meaningful and lovely, or if it is “pointless” or dreary. We should dream big, we should hold onto the beautiful promises of God and hope and pray about our future, but we also need to live where we are right now. This is where we’re meant to be right now; and that means it’s a good thing. Every day carries distinct beauty if we open our eyes to it.
Recognize that God is concerned with the journey. The destination is joyous and special. But, truth be told, it will end up becoming just part of the daily routine too. So now would be a great time to teach yourself how to enjoy it all.