Words of Hope: Preparing or Living

I love this quote, “There are people who go on infinitely preparing for life and not living it.” I can be like this. Most of my work life and daily living revolves around preparing for an event. Because of this, I can forget to live the event. I look forward to the day coming and then feel sad when the time speeds by. I can escape being present by starting to plan my next adventure rather than living the one I am in right now.  

Being present requires risk. I don’t like to make mistakes. I hate to let people down. Living this wonderous life God has planned for me requires me to be brave and to put down the tools I use for self-protection like having to be or look perfect, wanting to be safe from all difficulties, going through the pain of life and not just living for the fun or good times. 

I found my dad’s journal recently and I was surprised at the amount of pressure he carried, especially around camp. I think until you are responsible for someone else’s livelihood, it is hard to understand the amount of pressure that comes from interconnected living. Our lives whether we recognize it or not are inextricably intertwined. Those who love others and desire their joy and wellbeing can feel the weight and enormous responsibility of safety, financial wisdom, relational trust, and personal health.  

I imagine this pressure can well up as a form of existential dread bearing down on many in our society especially men who, without conscious acknowledgement, can hold the weight of the family on their shoulders. For certain temperaments, this perceived burden can make decision-making overwhelming.  

My husband’s friends helped a homeless man get off the streets. They sheltered and clothed him, helped him build a resume and secure him a job at the local Taco Bell. He worked hard for over a year and then headed back to the streets. The pressures of his job, taxes, transportation to and from work, and all the expectations on his life were too much.  

Living in the present costs a lot. I don’t even recognize sometimes when I am not present. I must be pulled back to life by my family. Sometimes when I am in pain, I say to myself, “I am a human being. I make mistakes. I am not perfect; I don’t have to be perfect.” These reminders help me to reengage with my body and all the aspects of human life that are messy, demanding, challenging, and hard.  

The biggest work is to surrender control. To trust that God has an adventure in mind for me that He calls good. One of my favorite authors writes, “Our attitude to life is always a reflection of our attitude to God. Saying ‘Yes’ to God is saying ‘Yes’ to life, to all its problems and difficulties.” 

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future – Jeremiah 29:11