Twenty eight years ago when my daughter was born, friends hosted a baby shower for me. The ladies blessed me by giving me notes of wisdom on index cards. The advice given on one of those cards has stuck with me over these many years. It simply said “Enjoy each season of your child’s life without wishing it was the next season.” I took that advice to heart, but it was a struggle especially during my homeschooling years to not say, “I can’t wait until…” Have you had some of these same thoughts?
“I can’t wait until they can read on their own”
“I can’t wait until they learn the multiplication tables”
And especially during the teen years,
“I can’t wait until they can drive and chauffeur themselves!”
Why is living in the future not a good idea?
From my current vantage point of looking back on my home school years, I have a better understanding of how counterproductive living in the future can be. One disadvantage of “future” living is that the joy of the present is lost. For example, it’s easier when children can read by themselves, but the pleasure of seeing their excitement as they learn new words is gone, too. Live in the present and realize that these are precious moments – and unlike the seasons on a calendar, the seasons of our lives never come around again.
During the high school years, as you watch your son’s sports game, don’t think of all the other things you could be doing, but take delight in his current skills, his joy in having you root for him, and let yourself rest in the pleasure of time well spent today.
Another shortcoming in future living is that vain imaginations produce expectations that don’t line up with reality. For me, I imagined that once my teens were driving, it would free up lots of time in my life. What I found was that the free time I imagined was taken over by other responsibilities, not the fun things I thought I would have time for! I learned little by little to let go of expectations, and I found that my disappointments decreased as a result.
The Bible reminds us many times to live in the present. The concepts of daily bread, strength and grace for the moment, and tomorrow having enough trouble of its own are truths that are helpful to remember. With my homeschooling days behind me, other areas of my life entice me into living in the future. Right now, I can’t wait until …I have grandchildren! On the one hand, this desire is legitimate and a hopeful anticipation, so no problem there. But, if this desire keeps me from delighting in and appreciating my life right now with my grown and married children, I’ve crossed the line into future living. The Lord doesn’t want us to live there, because there’s no grace for future living. But there is sufficient grace to meet and relish today’s moments.
The next time you are tempted to say, “I can’t wait until…,” make a conscious effort to instead enjoy living in the present, seeing the Lord’s hand in your present life, and expressing thankfulness throughout the day!
Do you do most of your living in the present or the future?