Eight: The Five Year Question
If you could know where you would be in five years, would you want to? Generally speaking, I would want to. I have a constant burning desire to know where my life is going and I don't think I could resist the temptation to find out who I'm going to be five years from now if the chance were offered. But I also know it wouldn't be good for me.
I'm no good at being content. Quite frankly, I want it all. I want to be successful. I want to be beautiful. I want to have committed friendships. I want to be a devoted member of my family. I want everyone to like me. I want to have multiple hobbies. And I want all of these things now. I don't want to have to wait around five, or ten, or twenty years to develop these good things. I want awesomeness now.
But if I can't have it all now, I at least want to know that I will have it eventually. So I obsess about where I'm going and plans and trajectories. And I can't simply let go.
For the past couple of mornings I've been waking up grumpy and my days have been spent frustrated and angry about how little control I have over my life. I've been dealing with the persistent feeling that I'm so close to getting somewhere, that I'm so close to cresting a hill, but I just... can't... get there. I'm running faster and climbing harder, but I'm failing at getting and doing and being everything I want to be. I want to know that in five years I'll have two kids, a fulfilling job, and a husband finishing up a doctoral program. But every one of those things is just far enough out of grasp that I find myself obsessing about how to secure these dreams tightly in my fist.
Yesterday I was trying to process all of this with Trey and I heard myself utter these words, "I know I need to be satisfied in Christ, but I'm trying to be satisfied by success in these other things. I don't feel like I want to be satisfied in Jesus." In my husband's great wisdom, he gave me hug and whispered, "I don't take what you say lightly, but I have two thoughts. First, you'll feel better in a week, but second, that doesn't mean these feelings aren't real and you shouldn't struggle through them with Jesus while they are here." Ah... the wonders of a man who has fully acknowledged his wife's PMS. But he's so completely right. I will feel better soon, but that doesn't mean this spiritual struggle I'm in right now is fictional. It's real and maybe my PMS is just taking my facade off so I have to deal with what is underneath it all.
This morning as I sat at my kitchen table eating breakfast, I reflected on my life and asked myself why it is so incredibly hard to let go of trying to have it all. I am constantly worried and obsessed with whether I'm satisfied in my work and what I need to do to be more so. I remembered that before Trey entered my life, much of my energy went to whether or not I would get married and how to be satisfied without someone in my life. Now that I am married, all of that angst has just been transferred over to my work life. The real issue here, folks, is that I apparently know nothing about being satisfied in Jesus. Reflecting on my life, I see that I'm like a helpless infant in this area, being passed back and forth between the different shoulders I'm leaning my soul upon.
But I remember one particular year of my life. I had been disappointed romantically, yet for the first time I found it in myself to avoid the bitterness associated with such disappointments and instead to just love the man in question and the woman who held his affections. It was one of the most free and happy years of my life. Not having what I wanted and choosing to be satisfied regardless was deeply empowering. I relished life during that time. In general, the times that I have accepted not having it all have been my happiest and most carefree.
I still want to know where I will be in five years. I want to know that my life will look how I want it to. But if I could know and if did look how I wanted, it would only be a trap ensnaring me in my idols. Jesus doesn't tell me I can have it all, because I already have him. And though it is sometimes really really hard to want him more than all of the other shiny things out there, it doesn't matter because he wants me.
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