I turned 30 this past weekend and it was a bit hard for me. It was hard because I am not where I wanted my life to be at 30. If you would've asked me at age 15 where my life would be at age 30 I would've said married with 2 children. I most definitely would not have said grieving the loss of my daughter who died just short of 5 months old. It is as if the perfect picture I had of my life in a beautiful frame just fell to the floor and shattered into a million pieces, so many pieces that there is no way of fixing it. So 30 takes on a whole new meaning as a milestone when it stops becoming a milestone and has now turned into a deadline. My deadline is up and I did not meet my target and that is a hard pill to swallow. It becomes even harder when I could; in fact I SHOULD have a 3 year old and a 1 year old.
I have been reflecting a lot on time lately and how we humanly measure it. The chapter Ecclesiastes, in the Bible, kept coming to mind when thinking about how God thinks about Time so I decided to read it this week. I originally read the chapter for chapter 3 the old Beatles song, "There is a time to be born, and a time to die... There is a time to cry and a time to laugh..." But the verse that came after that section in chapter 3 is what struck me this week. Ecclesiastes 3:11 states:
"God has given them a desire to know the future. He does everything just right and on time, but
people can never completely understand what he is doing."
This spoke to me because I often think if I just knew the future that would make this grieving process a whole lot easier. If God just told me that in 2 years I would find joy again, that I would have another child, that hearing people talk about their children wouldn't drive a knife into my heart, that would give me something to look forward to. But I am not alone. God has given us a desire to know the future. But in the future when I look back on this I will see that He did everything "just right and on time" even if right now I don't understand what he is doing.
Tim and I have also been really convicted about how we find contentment in this life. How do we rest in the stage of life we are in at the moment? As humans we are so fickle. We are driven by the "If Only's". First it is if only I had a job, then I would be happy, but then we get the job and instead of it bringing happiness we are onto the next "If Only". If only I was married and had someone to share this with, then I would be happy. Then we get married and we skip the happy and are onto the next "If Only". If only I had a child, a better house, could travel more- you fill in the blank for yourself. Tim and I have said we often think, "If only we had another child, things would get better." But I know plenty of people with children who are miserable. I don't want to continue this cycle in life until the day I am on my deathbed and then look back on my life thinking, "If only I would've found the joy at the stage I was at while I was there instead of looking forward to the next best thing, wishing my life away." In fact Ecclesiastes 5: 16 states:
"This too is real misery: They leave just as they came. So what do they gain from chasing the wind?
All they get are days full of sadness and sorrow, and they end up sick, defeated, and angry."
I am 30! And I've lived most of my life "chasing after the wind", thinking everyone who had the next thing I wanted possessed happiness. But the secret that Facebook and Instagram pictures don't show you is that behind that cute couple or beautiful family is a person who thinks that happiness is around the next stage in life. We are ALL chasing after the wind and if we take heed from the wisest man in history, we see the ending of the story... all we get from this are "days full of sadness and sorrow, ending up sick, defeated, and angry."
So tell me how I turn this ship around because that is not the direction I want my life going. Ecclesiastes 5:18-20 (The Message) gives us this gem of advice:
"After looking at the way things are on this earth, here's what I've decided is the best way to live:
Take care of yourself, have a good time, and make the most of whatever job you have for as
long as God gives you life. And that's about it. That's the human lot. Yes, we should make the
most of what God gives, both the bounty and the capacity to enjoy it, accepting what is given
and delighting in the work. It's God's gift! God deals out joy in the present, in the now."
It seems so easy. I need to take care of myself and I need to make the most of what God gives me, both the bounty and the capacity to enjoy it. I am not naive to the fact that this life brings sorrow and disappointment. But there is no use bringing more sorrow and disappointment to my life by chasing after the wind of my "If Only's". God has given me work, he has given me some really big and hard tasks, but my goal is to delight in the work. And daily my goal is to remind myself that God is doing everything "just right and on time." And if I truly believe that, I can slowly start to let go of the "If Only's" and live knowing that He is dealing out joy in the present, in the now. My only task is to open my eyes and find it, because it's there.