The other day, I was filling my glass with water and perusing the pictures and cards decorating the refrigerator. A picture of a young couple with a smiling baby captured my attention. I found myself wanting to be them and thinking how lucky they were. They were married, had a baby, and lived in a warm climate.
“When will I feel like I’ve arrived?” I found myself wondering. And that question struck me. Most of us spend much of our lives waiting for the next phase, one that we idealize as better than our current state. Perhaps this couple is hardly sleeping and they are looking forward to the days when they can. Or maybe they are longing for another child. So I asked myself, “At what point will I have all I want?”
Will it be when I am married? Or when I have my first child? Or when I have a big family? Or when they start to grow up and we can go do things together? Or when they are all moved out and have families of their own? When will I be in the place that I want to be? What do I consider the end goal?
I considered families that I know. Had my parents reached “the point” they were looking forward to, with all of their kids moved out and grandchildren to spoil? Or were my friend’s parents in the perfect stage, with some kids out on their own and the others at home old enough to have conversations with and take places easily?
After briefly reflecting, I had to admit that there will never be a point when everything is just as I want it. The future will always hold something that I want and hope to have. As much as I hope that those later life additions will bring fulfillment and contentment, I cannot place all of my hope in them. If I do, the burden might crush the beauty that they could offer.
This present moment, imperfect and filled with hope for a new future, is all that I have. To waste this time, longing for something I have idealized, is unfair to the future gifts and the gift of the present. When will I feel like I’ve arrived? Hopefully, soon. Perhaps it will be revealed in bits and pieces. Maybe in stronger relationships with my classes and in deeper friendships that bypass the superficial. Hopefully, day by day, the present will find me more interested in the Lord’s plans than in my own plans. And, hopefully, soon it will find me filled with a greater gratitude for the experiences and blessings the Lord is giving to me now, struggles and all. In all its beauty, God’s grace can only be accessed by living in the present.