My Instagram feed was covered in wedding pictures this summer. It seems as though almost everyone I know got engaged then married in the same year. I got to attend some of these weddings, and it was a pleasure to watch my friends marry the people they love.
Many of my friends who were married a few years ago are now getting pregnant and having babies. I burst into tears when one of my good friends showed me her ultrasound picture. I was overwhelmed with love for her and her baby. I still can’t believe it! I look at my friends and wonder, How are we old enough to raise children?
Even in my complete and utter joy for my friends, between the wedding photos and the baby announcements, I sometimes end up feeling slightly . . . left behind. I think we create imaginary markers for ourselves, feeling as though we need to attain a certain status by a certain time in order to feel like we are doing life correctly.
I can get caught up in wondering if I’ve missed something: Is there more for me out there? Have I missed my purpose?
Everything I don’t have stacks up in my head as an ever-growing, overwhelming list. It seems as though everyone around me has everything they could possibly want. I think of all the things I want that I don’t have: a job with a shorter commute, a good relationship, more time to be creative, maybe even babies someday.
My list grows ginormous in my brain. It crowds out every good thing that might be happening right in front of me.
As I drove to work the other day, grumbling and complaining along the way, thinking about all the things I didn’t have, and all the things I so badly wanted, something stopped me.
I saw the leaves.
They were changing in front of my eyes. The crisp summer green was making way to a deepening orange. I paused, startled. In my discontentment, I was literally missing the season changing right in front of me.
I stopped at the stop sign. I took a deep, long breath. I gave another look at the changing trees. And then I began to say out loud all of the gifts God has so graciously given me: “Thank you, God, for my apartment. It is a haven for me. Thank you, God, for my counselor. She has provided me a safe place to process this year. Thank you for my family . . . ”
I listed each person I love by name. I told God exactly why I was thankful for them — for their kindness, for their tenacity, for their strength.
I found that the more I thanked God, the more I found things to be thankful for. I saw the clear skies — the way the clouds looked like an oil painting. I felt the breeze rustle against my shoulders. There is always good all around us, but most days I don’t have eyes to see the good. Most days I’m too focused on what I don’t have, instead of the good in front of me. When you’re too busy focused on what you don’t have, you’ll be blind to see what you do.
I am choosing to be grateful for the season I’m in. I am choosing to combat discontentment with thankfulness. I don’t want to be a complainer — I want to be truly, deeply, richly grateful for this life I have been given. It’s easy to look to my right or left and see what I don’t have, but the truth is that’s not my life. That’s theirs.
Wedding pictures, baby announcements, and Instagram never tell a full story. They simply tell a snippet. Most of us are longing for more than what we have right now: a husband, a baby, better health, a better marriage, a job, a friend, a home. Our lives will always contain highs and lows, joys and sorrows, but through it all, God will be our constant. So, tell God your desires. He wants to know what’s on your heart. Then — and this is the hard part — trust in His perfect timing.
Each of us is made for a reason by a God who loves us infinitely. Most days I do not understand what God is up to. Almost always, I wish He would give me a clearer picture. But I know I have today. I know I have this moment.
And today, I choose to be grateful.
Our lives will always contain highs and lows, joys and sorrows, but through it all, God will be our constant. -@alizalatta: Click To Tweet