I used to have this recurring dream where I’m traveling on a high-speed train in a foreign country. Suddenly I’m captivated by unknown scenery. I reach for my camera and zoom in, but it won’t focus.
And the moment passes by.
I’m left banging my hand against my pillow while simultaneously slumber-swearing.
As single Christians, I don’t even think we make it to the slumber-swearing part. We’re too busy anxiously awaiting our arrival at the next stop to even take the time to get out our cameras and focus in on what’s outside our window.
And the moments pass us by.
We wish our lives away by:
1. Letting expectations rule our lives
When I was seven, I wanted to be a doctor. When I was 17 I wanted to be a millionaire from all my New York Times bestseller books. When I was 20, I wanted to be married within five years. Now I’m 28, and I’m single, poor, and faint every time I get my blood drawn. Letting internal expectations we have for ourselves — and external expectations our family members, churches, and society — dictate where we should be in this stage of life leaves us feeling like we’ve failed. We believe that we’re not really living until we fulfill these expectations. So we wish our lives away until we get the career, get the spouse, have the kids, and build up our 401K.
2. Thinking the grass is always greener on the other side
We covet other stages of life thinking that once we get there, once we obtain that stage, everything will be like Skittles popping out of rainbows. So we wish away singleness for marriage; our stepping stone jobs for careers; our transitory stage for settled and rooted. As if one season of life is better than another.
3. Forgetting to water the plant
We don’t have to be botanists to know that if you don’t water a plant it’s going to shrivel up and die. The problem with a dead plant is that it’s not useful — and we’re all plants. As the wise saying goes, “If now, so then.” But instead we focus on the “then” instead of the “now” and forget to cultivate our character, spirituality, and gifts in our current relationships, workplace, and church. We aren’t blossoming where we are planted and being utilized if we are waiting to bloom in another season.
4. Not riding the gondola
While studying abroad in college, I stood by a canal in Venice as a hefty Italian man shouted “60 euros!” while gliding a black gondola to the dock. The girls I was travelling with shrugged, “I want to wait to ride a gondola with my husband.” Neither of them were dating anybody at the time. I pouted as we took a 30 second canal taxi ride for 60 cents and crossed the canal. Everyday we pass up our own gondola rides as single Christians because we’re waiting to experience it at another time. We don’t take advantage of the unique opportunities that present themselves while single. There’s no carpe diem, seize the day, “Oh Captain, My Captain!” happening. We put off travelling, mission trips, church involvement, community, you name it — and take the cheap canal taxi instead.
I’m not sure about you, but I don’t want to wake up at the end of my life slumber-swearing and beating my pillow. Wishing it all away until there’s only one stage left and it’s not on this earth.
So let’s stop. Focus. Learn contentment by looking out the window at the here and now. Let go of expectations. Realize every stage of life is great and full of its own blessings and challenges and no one is better than the other. Water ourselves exactly where God has planted us so we’re useful. And for heaven’s sake, let’s ride the freaking gondola, OK?
Flickr photo (cc) by Rande Archer