It’s hard to use words capture the beauty of life. It’s a beauty I think I’m just starting to really grasp. A beauty we skim over the top of most days.
I’ve heard it said that it’s the little things that make up a life. It’s not a thought that’s really resonated with me, to be honest. Little things were never something I really loved to think about it. I wanted to do big things, to fulfill impossible dreams, to aim for the stars. I wanted a great life that would blow me away.
And then gradually I began to realize that big things are accomplished through a lot of little moments. I gave up my longing to do huge things and decided to be content with whatever He gave me. I was ok with not having some amazing life. I just wanted Jesus.
It was then that I realized that I already had an amazing life. It blows me away every day. Sure, not in the be-in-the-middle-of-africa-saving-orphans kind of way. I don’t live in a mud hut in the middle of a tribe who is starving and doesn’t know Jesus. I still think that would be neat. But that’s not my life and that’s ok.
Instead I live in the middle of nowhere in the hills or Arizona. I only have a few dozen acquaintances in the whole state but I get to spend time with my family everyday and connect deeply with friends across the country (thanks to technology). I get up to wash dishes, do baking, clean bathrooms, study counseling, pray in my meadow and then do it all again. Simple but rich. Such days are interspersed with travel to encourage precious people that it’s worth putting Jesus and their family first. It’s the same kind of life I’ve lived for years. First it was grade school, then high school, then college, then university. But all similar. And for years I thought it was good but mundane. I mean, I could be doing so much more. I could be in Africa feeding orphans. I thought when I grew up life would get more interesting. And it did. But not in the way I thought.
My life hasn’t changed much, but I have. I’ve begun to realize how beautiful my life is, whatever it looks like at that moment. I get to live everyday with my best Friend by my side. When I wake up He is waiting for me. All day long I get to do things with Him. If the day is quiet (something that used to make it seem dull to me) I get to spend even more time with Him. I still have big dreams. But what I really want is to be His little girl and live every day to the full with Him. If He wants to use me in a big way one day, that’s great, and if not, that’s fine too.
I didn’t feel that way in the past. I spent twice as much time giving up dreams as I did living them… But now I’m so thankful I did, even when it felt like He was asking me to give up all I ever wanted. Because the thing is, in the giving things up, He changed what I wanted. He’s aligned my desires with His. It’s a beautiful thing to experience.
I’ve been challenged by many sources of late to treasure my life. One sweet lady (Kara Tippetts) who I’ve never met has made me realize what a gift my life is. I started following her blog early this year and read her story of cancer eating away at her body while her love for Jesus and her family kept her living everyday to the full. Even after she passed away, I’ve been drawn back to her blog many a time to read old posts her friends have reposted. Somehow reading about a life that drew to an early close helps me realize how precious mine is and how often I squander it. So many of us have so much life, we don’t realize what a gift it is or that it should be treasured. We tear through it like it doesn’t matter. Meanwhile there are other who are in their very last days. They realize the gift of life. They savor every drop. If we would listen to them we would learn so much about how to live our long lives… Because how do we know ours really will be long? Isn’t it worth treasuring each day like it is our last?
Just last week I found myself reasoning that it was ok that I hadn’t connected deeply with Him that day because I had the whole winter… And then it struck me— if He’s my best Friend, how can I ever think I have enough time with Him? How can tomorrow be good enough? What about making the most of today?
And so today I wake up snuggled in my soft blankets while it is still dark. I open my eyes and realize He’s here in this stillness. This very moment is a treasure. I can waste the whole thing on FB or I can stop and say good morning. I open my prayer journal on my phone and I type...
Good morning Jesus! It's dark. It's just us. And I love you. Thank you for being my friend. Sometimes I'm not very lovable. But this week I am determined to make the most of little moments. You know what I realized? Life is made up of little moments. And I've never really appreciated them. I want to do great big things and little moments are kind of annoying. But I'm realizing that a friendship is built on these little minutes throughout the day and how I use them. I want to maximize them and make the most of every little minute.
For me that means talking to Him while I bake. It means sitting on the couch next to the kitchen while I wait for the food in the oven to be done cooking and telling Him just how I feel and what I’m thinking at that moment. It means opening up that prayer journal on my phone many times some days. It means turning to Him when my heart aches instead of trying to pretend it doesn’t. It means going to bed with my heart in His hands instead of in my own plans.
I’ve been ok with just having Jesus in the last year and you know the amazing thing? I’ve never been more content or happy in my life. I couldn’t figure it out at first. I thought maybe it would pass and it would have been ok if it had because it’s all about Jesus not happiness. But it hasn’t. Because when all we want is Jesus we have all we want. He never denies us Himself.
My life isn’t perfect, but it is wonderful, because He is wonderful. I have the desire of my heart because He is that desire. And because I have Him, every sunrise seems brighter, every rainbow bigger. Mundane moments become treasures because of Who they are shared with.
Another day ends. Today the sun shone. The world spinned. I saw smiles. I heard laughter. I shared moments with the family He’s blessed me with. I talked to the One I love. Today I’ve lived.
The stars glimmer at night and I look up and remember that when days are done here I get to go home. And until then, I’ll walk this journey of love with the King of Love Himself. And I’ll be content with all I have because He Himself has said, “I will never leave thee or forsake thee.” (Hebrews 13:5)
Forks clatter on plates and our breakfast conversation somehow turns to hospitals and how blessed we’ve been to spend so little— and for some of us, none— of our lives there. My bro proclaims the fact that he has never been to the hospital and never intends to, other than for visiting others and such. It’s not till later this morning that it hits me that while I’ve spent very little time in a hospital, I’ve spent a good portion on my life in a waiting room… just not the kind you’d think.
It first began to sink into me when I read the deep words on a blog sometime last year… “It can look like we all have this waiting room addiction: Waiting for the next season of life to say it’s good enough. Waiting for the next number on a scale to say we’re okay enough. Waiting for the next dream, the next house, the next step up, the next bend in the road — before we can finally start living, before we can finally step into Really Living…” Ann Voskamp
It resonated with me instantly. I thought back to all the times I looked to the future and how life would be “real” when I got there. I’ve always been a future thinking girl, sometimes to the chagrin of my poor mother. :) When I was little I couldn’t wait to start school. When I’d started school I could not wait to be done and on summer break. Sometimes I made ridiculous schedules to get there which included 13 math lessons in a day. But truth be known after I was a few weeks into summer break all the things I thought would be so exciting got a bit old and I’d finger the books for the new school year and eagerly await starting.
It was an inside joke in our family when Caleb and I were little that no matter what the season was, we wanted it to hurry up and move on to the next one. Once fall came we couldn’t wait for winter and would get up in the morning and look out the windows in the hopes of snow. But somehow after a few months of that, we couldn’t wait for spring.
The compelling interest in the next thing didn’t stop back then though. Once I hit ten I couldn’t wait to be thirteen and then I wanted to be sixteen and so on. Once I finished high school I couldn’t wait to be done with my associates, and once that was done, with my bachelors. And now I just finished my bachelors and somehow I’m already thinking to what will come after I’ve finished my masters. Funny how that works.
But the truth is, it’s not just about the big things like degrees. It affects everything. Once that certain project is done in the kitchen, I can enjoy the rest of my day. Once that FR is done I’ll get to work on the next thing. Once that stage is past there will be another more exciting and somehow “better” one.
I’ve been making it a priority to learn to slow down my rush and enjoy the moments. But old habits die hard. While I may see the struggle in many areas there are others I miss.
This morning it struck me that this waiting room addiction can take a more seemingly pious form. My simple prayer of “God, I want to learn to love you better and live everyone of my days closer to you” had turned into something more like “God, I want to be closer to you, and I’m not going to enjoy the relationship I do have with you until I am. I want more of you in my days. But until I can sense that prayer answered, I’m going to keep sitting in this waiting room. I won’t treasure the one life I do have until it is the way I think it should be. I can’t love all that you are to me until we are as close as I think we should be.”
Don’t get me wrong... I think dreaming big and aiming high is vital. There’s a reason I was praying those prayers in the first place. I want to be closer to Him everyday. I want to love Him more today than I ever have before. And I know He wants us to be close even more than I do— just in His own time and way. But while I want so much more, I don’t have to pause living today until I have it. So often I try to control God by telling Him what I want to learn and how I want to be closer to Him while being unwilling to enjoy what He’s already given while I wait. I may indeed wait. But there is a difference between patient waiting on God while we treasure each moment to the full and this "waiting room" waiting that impatiently wants life to hurry up and bring the next thing.
Because really is sitting in our waiting room the way to treasure this life? I mean, if we could be anywhere in the world, why would we choose a waiting room?
But we do.
I’ve realized that I am very prone to rushing through my life (understatement of the year). It’s a habit I’m working to break. I’ve put boundaries in place. I’m currently reading and listening to several books on the topic as well as other favorites I frequently turn too. But truth of the matter is, no matter how much I learn about what life should look like, no matter how much I thin out my schedule, the issue will remain unresolved until I let Him change my mindset. I have to choose to intentionally enjoy this moment and live this day. I have to choose to not consider today a day to “do” so I can be one step closer to the next big thing. It is a day to treasure for all that it is.
And while I want with all my heart to be closer to Him every single day, I have to do this His way. I can’t get up in the morning and say “ok God, today is the day I’m going to learn how to keep my heart open to you.” Maybe His time scale isn’t mine. Maybe He knows there’s something else for me to learn today.
For me it comes down to the realization that while I am striving for perfection because I want to be like Him, I don’t have to live in the waiting room until I get there. Today is a gift. Today I won’t learn it all. Today I won’t do everything. Today I may not feel as close to Him as I would like. But today I will live. I will do my best. I will ask what is His will. I will seek to do what He wants and not worry about the things He doesn’t.
Because the thing is, we don’t reach perfection in Him in a day. It’s a ladder. And we get to live at each step. We don’t have to wait for life to begin until we’ve reached the top. We get to treasure each stage.
I’d copied the words into my journal just last week… “If a youth has to begin at the lowest round of the ladder, he should not be discouraged, but be determined to climb round after round…” EGW
There is a world of growth before us. There are new heights to reach. I don’t want anything to distract me from reaching them. But at the same time, I’m determined to stop believing the lie that life doesn’t begin until I reach them. I’m determined to not sit in the waiting room until I’m perfect.
I don’t want to rob Him of the intimacy we were meant to share in this moment by living my whole life for something more exciting in the future. This is the only moment I am promised. In this moment I will grant Him access to myself. In this moment I will love Him the best I know how. In this moment I will count all the gifts He is giving. In this moment I will be honest about the deepest corners of my heart. In this moment I will treasure this gift of life He has given me.
In this moment, I’ll be His little girl.
20. Lover of Jesus. Daughter. Sister. Friend. Servant. Fan of the kitchen. Graduate of Masters of Biblical Counseling.
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