When I was in middle school, I had things planned out. When I turned 16, I was going to have a light blue convertible Volkswagen Bug. I was going to work at Borders and drink lots of coffee. My boyfriend – because of course I would be dating by 16! – would work at Borders, too. And he was probably going to be a werewolf (I probably loved Remus Lupin a little too much).
When I turned 16, I drove a green Altima with squeaky hubcaps (but don’t knock it – that Altima is now on its sixth driver and is lovingly named Forest). I worked summers helping at my father’s military surplus company. I was still 8 years away from my first boyfriend. The dreams that 14-year-old Sarah had planned for 16-year-old Sarah hadn’t quite panned out.
But eventually things worked out. In college I worked in an education library, which was like working at Borders (R.I.P.) except 1000x better. That whole boyfriend thing took a couple of tries, but worked out exceedingly well (high five, B!). And I never drove that light blue convertible Beetle, but I did drive a deep blue hatchback affectionately known as Baby Car.
Lots of times when I’d look at that car, I’d think about the plans I made for myself, and how things turned out, in such different shades and ways I’d never have imagined at 14 or 18 or even 24. Late bloomer, I imagined myself with a house of cats and the companionship of books until close to 30. And I was content. But somehow I ended up a bride before ever being a bridesmaid. Life has turned out so differently than what I imagined.
This isn’t a post to show how well things have turned out for me. I am so grateful for where I am now, but there have been times when things aren’t going as imagined. I’ve been that girl, watching the years tick by, wondering when the job, or the boy, or the whatever it is that was supposed to come along by now hasn’t. I cultivated an attitude of waiting, of anticipating, like a child on Christmas Eve. Soon, I would tell myself. Soon soon soon. It became my mantra.
Meanwhile so much was happening. Good friendships forming, trips of a lifetime taken, life lessons being learned. One thing is certain in life: time will pass. Things will happen. But sometimes when the things happening aren’t what we had planned, we feel suspended, stuck.
1 Corinthians 7:3-11 was brought to my attention by the study we’re doing in our small group, “The Illumination Project”. The author, quoting her ESV study Bible, paraphrases the verses: “For now, stay put. Be content in the situation where God has placed you. If you’re married, don’t seek to be single. If you’re single, don’t seek to be married. Live God’s way, one day at a time, and He will show you what to do.”
What I didn’t know while I cultivated this attitude of waiting is that even when things happen, the big plans that suddenly come sooner rather than later, when you have trained yourself to live like it’s Christmas Eve, you always live that way. Even when the plans come through, no matter how they come through.
Only in the last few months have I realized how I am still living like it’s Christmas Eve, even though I’ve had my book job, and my boyfriend, and my Beetle. I’ll still live like it’s soon soon soon. But my library job has come and gone. My boyfriend is gone; he’s now my husband. And last Saturday I said goodbye to my Beetle. Eight years passed with Baby Car. Eight years of plans and dreams and becoming. I didn’t think I would, but I cried when I gave up the keys.
So, to you I say: don’t live life thinking soon. No matter what you are waiting on, cultivate an attitude of contentment now. I am just now beginning the slow and steady process of living now now now, knowing I am exactly where God would have me.
So now I have Scout the CR-V. She is reliable and has a lot of space. She has the room the Doolittles will need to grow at some point. And I know eight years with her will pass. Quickly. Until then, it’s summer and I am content with now. Not because it’s exactly what I had planned, but because it’s better. It’s where God’s loving and imaginative hands have placed me.