I realized something about myself that I guess I knew...but never put into words.
I'm always looking to the next thing...
For years, I was working my way through college. Checking off each assignment, test, class, or semester that brought me closer to my degree.
With my degree in hand, I got the job I wanted, but it was a job that by design had me looking for the next thing. As a teacher, I was always planning, looking to the end goal. Working on ways to get kids to where they needed to be. Hopefully it was in fun and inventive ways, but still looking toward the goal. In the process, I was checking off lists whether mentally or literally. After time teaching...I was looking to the next holiday (!) or break from school to be with family...the next vacation...the next activity with kids...the next thing...ALWAYS.
I remember when my son was a baby. He was learning to crawl. He was up on all fours...rocking back and forth...even lifting a hand or knee to move...but not moving. My dad called me one day, asked me what I was doing and dropped the phone from laughter when I said I was on the floor with him TEACHING him to crawl...but that's another story. LOL.) My point was I was always looking to the next step he would take, the next thing he would learn, the next stage he would enter. I loved each stage and THOUGHT I was savoring them, but now I see I wasn't. I wasn't conditioned to. I was conditioned (by life, circumstances, society...) to move to the next thing. I still am.
I've always wondered what the apostle Paul's secret to contentment was. He said he had learned to be content whether in need or abundance, etc. Did he know it at a young age or did it take him some time to learn it? Was it one big lesson or a series of smaller ones? Do you follow me?
I go through phases of contentment, but then I feel stagnant and get back into the rhythm of looking for the next thing. Then I realize I'm not living a "contented" life and resolve to be more content and focus on details...savor life and it's journey...until I lose my focus on that goal and become stagnant again. Then I'm off looking for the next thing again. Does anyone else see the cycle? Apparently I haven't learned TRUE CONTENTMENT. I resolve to be content. I look to the next thing...as if those are things I should be controlling.
I think of it in terms of Mary and Martha, simplistically speaking. (Feel free to correct me if you disagree or share with me a better example.)
Martha was a "do-er." She got things done. She did it out of a heart full of love, originally. But somewhere she lost her focus and it was a way of life.
Mary was a "soaker." She sat at the feet of Jesus to soak up her time with Him. To savor every moment. She knew things needed to get done, but she couldn't pry herself from the ultimate source of all things.
Martha would've liked to sit at Jesus' feet, but then who is going to feed him, etc. She lost sight of the fact that HE was FEEDING them. This is a picture of a constant battle.
Honestly, I don't have some super insight that the Lord has given me, I'm still working it out myself. But it appears to be the age old battle of flesh versus the spirit. I understand the concepts of walking in the Spirit. At least I think I do, but I haven't mastered it. My flesh is stronger than I want it to be and in that strength...it robs me, often, of my contentment. It needs to be subjected to a good "soaking" daily and often, many times daily.
I want to be Mary, sitting at Jesus feet, soaking up all he would give me...but I am conditioned to be Martha. You know?
In other areas I have mastered that battle. I can leave dishes in the sink to go and watch a movie with my kids or snuggle up and read a book together, etc. But when it comes to that which matters MOST, time with the Lord...sometimes I just can't leave that "list" of things to do or they'll never get done...to just be in his presence, to be with him.
Like I said, I knew I struggled with it...but it came home to me in a new realization recently...this flaw about myself in relationship to always pursuing the next thing. I don't have all the answers, but sometimes I just have to say it out loud or write it out to give it credence. I don't expect your comments or advice. It's just where I am right now...still in the struggle as I assume I'll be 'til the Lord returns.