Tuesday, December 8, 2009

In the Meantime

It's easy to fixate on countdowns. How many days until Christmas? How long until that exciting vacation? How many weeks until that event I can't wait to attend? I am the kind of person who can get really excited about the things I'm looking forward to. Sometimes the days in between me and the next special thing on my calendar can seem like annoying waiting that must simply be endured. Those days become less important to me than the day I'm looking forward to, and I feel like I'm just killing time until I reach a particular point in time. It can be hard to make myself realize that my life is about more than the high points I have planned. I've realized that when I rush through each day in a hurry to get to the next, I miss all kinds of small opportunities to make the most of my life. Today may be just an ordinary day, but I have a chance to enjoy it and to make it productive. To me, patience is about more than just waiting for things that I want to happen—it also means living life to the fullest in the meantime. 

Right now I'm really looking forward to seeing my family again. I get to travel down to Tennessee this Christmas to visit with my mom, my sister, and my extended family. My dad lives abroad and will be coming to visit me in February, and I am hoping that I will get to go visit him sometime in the next year or two. In the meantime, though, I can still connect with my family in a meaningful way. I need to make sure I'm communicating with them regularly and that I'm involved in their lives to the greatest extent possible. It's always best when we're in the same place, but we can still have a special relationship even when we're not. I need to make sure I'm investing in my family now even while I'm waiting for the time when we'll be together again.

On a more long-term note, I'm impatient for the day when my husband finishes his grad school program and gets a regular job. That has to happen before we can do things like traveling, having children, or aggressively paying down our debt. I can't really switch jobs or focus on my own career until he gets established in his, so sometimes it feels like my life is in a holding pattern right now. In the meantime, I need to focus on the things I can do today instead of the things I have to wait for. Right now I can challenge myself to improve my marriage, develop new professional skills, work on personal projects, and learn new life lessons. I can concentrate on becoming a more disciplined Christian and a stronger, more mature person. Maybe I can't make a very big dent in my mortgage, but I can work on paying off my car early. Perhaps I can't travel the world, but I can discover new and exciting places and experiences in my own neighborhood.

I've realized that the future is most tantalizing when I'm dissatisfied with the present. Waiting for that special event or milestone isn't so terrible when I have enjoyable and fulfilling things to do in the meantime. I like having exciting things to look forward to in my life, but I also enjoy the everyday parts of my life too. It's really easy to daydream about the future (and I think it's OK to do that now and then), but it's much more productive to brainstorm about the present. What can I do to make today a day worth being excited about? There are a lot of wonderful things in my future, but there's also a lot to learn, experience, and enjoy in the meantime.

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