Raise your hand if you struggle with constantly thinking about "what's next?"
Or maybe you look around and notice people taking big steps (or maybe just a small step, but a step nonetheless) and you think "oooh. Do I need to do something too?"
Twice this last week, I've read very convicting words that challenged me to think about how I'm walking through life.
The first one came from a Instagram story that my friend shared from a podcast (Thanks, Abbey), and it read: "Time with God in the 21st century is primarily spent on finding out what God wants for us. We read the word to learn how to apply it to us, pray to ask God about ourselves, listen to hear God's message for us.. Devotional time has become more personal fulfillment than eternal significance" (Phylicia Masonheimer, Verity Podcast).
The second came from one of my favorite authors, Bob Goff: "What if we found out God's big plan for our lives is that we wouldn't spend so much of our time trying to figure out a big plan for our lives? Perhaps He just wants us to love Him and love each other."
Both of these statements challenge us to do one big thing: take ourselves and desires out of the picture and stand still for just a few moments. Yes, God wants to hear about our dreams, passions, goals, all of it. But what if were overcomplicating something that is actually quite simple?
In my work life, business, writing, marriage, and honestly probably a lot more, I always have an end goal. Whether or not that goal will be reached is unknown to me, but I know I won't get there if I don't try. And again, goals are great. I think we all need some type of goal to motivate us to what we ARE called to. But here's the issue: I get so wrapped up in completing the next step, that once it's finally reached, I find myself asking, "okay, what next?"
I'm realizing when there's a never ending loop of "what's next", I fail to rest, relax and rejoice in the now. I'm so caught up in the future that the present feels mundane. And when life feels mundane, I feel unsatisfied, jealous of those around me, wondering when "it will be my turn."
When you take a step back and appreciate the details, the slowness, the pause of a season, I almost think that's where we grow most. When slow down enough to taste and see all that He has done and that He is GOOD, we're able to feel better connected to a Father who also doesn't rush what is to come. Sometimes life's biggest reveal comes in the mundane, something we'll miss if we stay focused on what's ahead.
We can learn a lot from what feels to be the mundane, dwelling on whatever is pure, honorable and true (Philippians 4:8). We might discover that we're actually in the middle of our next step and that's where our focus should be. Or maybe we'll learn that our spouse or loved one needs extra attention and time, something we'd miss when focusing on what's next. Perhaps we'll learn to appreciate a sabbath, conversation at the dinner table, or a stroll through the park, because at some point your children will venture off into their own next steps or a job could take a busy turn. Even if every day feels the same, maybe our eyes will be opened that we aren't meant to constantly run on empty.
At the core, I think our issue is that we've convinced ourselves that if we're not juggling 15 tasks at once then we're not doing enough. And if we take life slowly, step by step, one day at a time, we'll miss out on what's next. But in reality, we can only do 15 tasks at a mediocre level rather than if we chose 2-3 things to excel at.
One thing God has really put on my heart this year and has reiterated a lot in the last week is this: it's okay if not everything gets checked off the list this week. It's okay to go home, eat dinner, relax and repeat that several days that week. It's okay to not be going 90 miles an hour at all times. It's okay to go out for ice cream because it's been a long day or watch Gilmore Girls for the 10th time. We can rejoice in a Father who is certain, and appreciate steadiness as He ultimately prepares us for what's next.