The act of anticipation keeps us from living our present fully. We look forward to going to school, turning 16, graduating High School or turning 21. We long for finding that special someone, having children. Once we have children, we can’t wait until the crawl or walk or talk. We look forward to them going to school finally.
We get excited about the stages of their life that are in the near future for them. We dream about the kind of people they will become. We invest our thoughts in a new job or promotion and how that would affect our lives. We day dream about getting new cars or a new house. We even get caught up in holidays. We anticipate how the holiday will be with family and presents and what food we will eat. We think about the conversations we will have. Sometimes down to what we will say if we are asked an uncomfortable question, that we don’t really want to answer. We know exactly what the other person is supposed to respond, don’t we?! They never do respond that way though.
We fantasize about what retirement will be like, or winning the lottery even. We yearn for “empty nest-er” days. We worry about every little detail that “could” happen. We refuse to believe something good actually is coming our way until there is no other way for the other shoe to drop. We are cynical in nature some of us, believing the worst probably will happen. Meanwhile our thoughts may give us hope but keep us from really enjoying exactly where we are now.
We don’t have any reference when we are children, but we spend less time truly thinking “What if”, when we are kids. As adults we can spend a significant amount of time, thinking about it, day dreaming or worrying about it. We get dissatisfied with the here and now, as we propel ourselves into the future in our thoughts. We pray and long for God to assist us in accomplishing our dreams and hopes. We ask if He could just help us with this one thing that we are worrying about. We can even pray fervently for a positive outcome that will occur in the future.
Now there is nothing wrong with those prayers. We are told to stand before Him and ask, even to ask fervently, and to be persistent. The issue I have with all of this anticipation, with all of this day dreaming is that, at least for myself, it pulls me out of the here and now. Sometimes that’s what I think I want. Things get hard and I would rather dream about how it will be. That dream is often a lot like those conversations where we give someone else their lines. Our dream view of the future leaves out all of the things that will make that less than ideal. We leave out all the bills that come with that great house that we want or having to work harder to earn the mortgage. We pray, “Could I just win the lottery this once?” We all know the math behind the lottery. They wouldn’t do it if it wasn’t tilted heavily in their favor. Your chances of accidental death are most likely better than your chances of winning.
What is a problem in this, even in the Christian version where you pray fervently for an outcome or to be rescued from some issue, expecting great things from God? We forget to focus on being grateful for what you have. Now I have been in places in my life that felt like there was no way I could be grateful for anything, it was so overwhelming. We are instructed in the Bible to pray fervently as well, to knock on the door until it is opened. We are told to expect great things from a God who loves us dearly.
But we forget that little part where we ask God, not my will but thine. I think I’m not a big fan of that concept, but God has shown me over and over that his plan is better than mine. It may be more painful in some ways but when I look back in hindsight, I can easily see where His plan far surpasses my own.
Trusting in Him is hard. Occasionally those periods of time in my life that are extremely difficult produce blessings that later are some of the best in my life. I have been blessed by the friends I found during times of struggle; the characteristics in my personality that changed dramatically, the goals I obtained to remove myself from a situation. All of those are blessings in disguise, where God used a struggle to produce great outcomes. I would not have chosen that for myself but I’m glad I am who I have become.
Perhaps today, I could anticipate tomorrow a little less and just enjoy today. I will choose to focus on the many blessings in my life instead of the strife. I will remember they often happen in tandem. Even some of the most memorable stories in the Bible show that struggle and blessings may occur in tandem. He is good. He is able. Today though, what He has already given me is enough. I will worry about tomorrow, tomorrow.
By Vicki L. Pugliese