June 6, 2011
"Now listen, you who say, 'Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.' Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow." James 4:13-14a (NIV)
I live life on fast forward, racing around with my to-do list in hand, eyes on the next thing that needs doing. I love setting goals and achieving them. Very little makes me as happy as crossing off something on my to-do list with a satisfying line of ink.
One day this summer I spent a lazy afternoon watching tv with my niece. She had a feature on her entertainment system that let you watch movie trailers to preview the movies first. We had started out the afternoon intending to select a movie but ended up spending quite a bit of time just watching the trailers. "Sometimes I spend all my time just watching what's coming and never getting to the main feature," she giggled.
Her words hit me as I realized that — too often — that's how I live my life. I focus on what's ahead and don't allow myself the simple pleasure of truly enjoying the main feature: this day, this moment, I've been given.
In my new novel, She Makes It Look Easy, the main character is someone who lives on fast forward too. She has set her sights on the kind of house she wants to live in, the kind of life she wants to have, the perfection she hopes to obtain. She seeks the advice of an influential neighbor in hopes of getting herself to that perfection all the faster. She doesn't stop to think that perhaps in her zeal to do more and better and faster she is losing the gifts and blessings that are in her midst right now.
Sad to say, this novel was born largely from my own experience. My life has been a continual learning process of reveling in today and suppressing the urge to try to lay hold of that elusive tomorrow.
A few months ago I got the very first speeding ticket of my life. As the officer who issued the ticket went back to his car I sat in stunned silence, unable to process what had just happened. My perfect record was tarnished by my inability to slow down and enjoy the ride.
Ever racing to the next thing, my habits had caught up to me. Instead of enjoying the scenery I had reduced it to a dull blur flying past my window. After the shock wore off, I realized the lesson: slowing down, pressing pause, will not only add to the life I live, it can also keep me from harm.
I have endeavored recently to be more deliberate about choosing to pause and see God at work, to catch the little winks He sends my way if I will only look up. I keep a list of these gifts He gives. I write in my journal about what I am learning. I seek Him through His Word and ask Him each morning to bring these truths to mind throughout my day. Sometimes in the roar of my life I stand perfectly still and just listen and smile and say Thank You, Lord. I am learning to focus on the main feature and quit speeding towards the coming attractions.
Dear Lord, today is a blessing from You. Help me to seek out what You have for me in it. I know that You hold my tomorrows in Your hand and in the meantime I can rest in the moment I've been given. In Jesus' Name, Amen.
She Makes It Look Easy by Marybeth Whalen. A novel for every woman who has looked at another woman's life and said, "I want what she has." She Makes It Look Easy reminds us of the danger of pedestals and the beauty of authentic friendship.
One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are by Ann Voscamp
Visit She Reads and enter to win the "She Makes It Look Easy" kitchen gift package! Thinking of the fun that the main character, Ariel, had learning about organizing her home, we're giving away a fun kitchen set that will help you make this summer easier. Register to win a plethora of kitchen goodies (including a Wolfgang Puck Digital Multicooker!) AND an autographed copy of She Makes It Look Easy by Marybeth Whalen.
Instead of focusing on a to-do list today, create a "to enjoy" list and check those things off instead.
What am I missing today because I'm focused on tomorrow? What gifts has God given me that are rushing past me as I race ahead?
Proverbs 27:1, "Do not boast about tomorrow, for you do not know what a day may bring." (NIV)
Matthew 6:34, "Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own." (NIV)
© 2011 by Marybeth Whalen. All rights reserved.
Proverbs 31 Ministries
616-G Matthews-Mint Hill Road
Matthews, NC 28105
Originally published Monday, 06 June 2011.