Feelings of the moment are complicated things. It’s easy when you’re cold to believe you will probably never be warm again. Sickness can make you forget what it’s like to feel healthy. We get so caught up in our current circumstances we can’t see past how we feel right now.
I think braces really illustrate this point. If you’ve had braces, you’ll understand. They are two years of pulling and tugging and sores and food restrictions. Anbesol becomes your best friend because it numbs the agony coming from every spot where your mouth had the audacity to rub the sharp metal glued to your teeth. Eventually, you forget what it’s like to simply bite into an apple. To live without fear of destroying the thousands of dollars connecting your teeth. To not have Christmas colored bands two months after the holiday season.
Then something magical happens.
One day, after what feels like years of being lied to by your orthodontist, your braces are actually ready to come off. You’re a new person with straight teeth. Most importantly, as soon as you see the results, the pain and struggle of two plus years slowly melts away. I can describe to you what it’s like having braces, but I don’t remember the daily agony. The end justifies the pain it takes us to get there or something like that.
Often, we let how we feel now dictate our moods and thoughts toward our lives. We lose hope in our future because one bad day knocks us down. We moodily imagine this is the best it will get and it sucks but it’s my life. It’s like we forget all the good that got us where we are now. Becoming an adult is like the process of conception – dangerous, hostile and the chances aren’t great you’re going to succeed at first. It takes the miracle of everything lining up for life – or a job – to happen.
I’m typically very optimistic, but I fall into this tendency. Been in a new situation for five minutes and it feels terrible? Probably means my life is ruined. Instead of saying, ‘God this is weird now, but I trust Your plan,’ I panic and assume everything will be terrible forever.
That was me today. My morning wasn’t terrible and then something happens and suddenly I feel trapped and sad and like I’m never going to be good enough. I basically had an existential crisis and sought out Facebook for comfort during this stressful period. A few posts down I noticed a quote someone had shared:
‘God’s plans for your life far exceed the circumstances of your day.’ – Louie Giglio
I’m looking at my life right now in this moment, and I’m defeated. I feel like I won’t achieve anything else. But God wanted to remind me that His plans are way bigger than what I’m experiencing now. My human brain gets trapped in the now while God is fighting giants in my path to prepare something truly great.
When I think I’m not good enough, God is there to remind me to hold unswervingly to the hope I profess because He is faithful (Hebrews 10:23). He tells me He will sustain, rescue and carry me. (Isaiah 46:4). The trivial things I experience now are nothing when I rely on the strength of my God, knowing He works for the good of those who love Him.
Being a human is fraught with stress and struggle (although we really can’t complain because we brought everything on ourselves). It’s in our very nature to yearn for something higher but rely on ourselves. When we do this, we miss the extraordinary peace offered.
I can have joy at work when my design isn’t as welcomed as I imagined because I have someone greater than the world on my side. I can get through the trying and annoying situations because God has my back. I can get beyond the circumstances of my day because I know God’s plan kicks butt.
In 20 years, I probably won’t remember how I felt this afternoon, but I will remember trusting in God’s wisdom for my life and believing Him when he tells me He is doing something too wonderful for me to imagine (Job 42:3). I will reflect on His plan and passion for my life, rejoicing in how He loves me even though I definitely don’t deserve it.
Just like braces, the pain will be a distant memory for the paradise to come.
[Deep analogies are kind of my specialty]