Numbering Our Days Aright

  Time passes differently while walking about the Alpine cities of Europe.

Sure, everything is different on vacation anyway. No looming deadlines. No daily obligations. No frantic efforts to complete a to-do list. (At least, this is vacation as it should be…)

But even if it wasn’t vacation, my time spent in Europe would have felt different.

For I realized just how small I am.

My eyes were surrounded by buildings erected hundreds, and sometimes thousands, of years before I had come to stand in front to them. And behind those, mountains, erected before the foundations of the cities were even laid.

My ears were surrounded with the chatter of languages I did not speak, and could not understand. Person after person had a story I would never know. I may have brushed by people considered very important in their businesses and families and communities, but to me, they were simply one of the crowd.

I was humbled.

If there are so many people around us in the here and now who will never know who we are, is there any chance who we are and what we do will have any sort of lasting impact? Hundreds of years from now, will any of the things that consume our days have made any difference?

We could take that thought in the direction of the teacher in Ecclesiastes, and wonder in despair if everything is meaningless. But that’s not the effect it had on me.

The sights of history and foreignness brought a sense of relief. These things I juggle everyday, that I struggle to keep afloat, that cause me to ache with the tiredness of fear that they might drop, none of them are as important as I make them out to be.

{Deep sigh}

When I read Psalm 90, its words have the same effect. To be honest, it is a psalm with a mixed bag of words, with some verses about wrath and anger I wish weren’t there. But also? It is a Psalm that brings perspective.

I am not that important. Thanks be to God.

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That was my reflection on Psalm 90 (with some pictures from my amazing European vacation this past fall.) Link up with your reflection below. Or come back next week with thoughts on Psalm 91.

Changing How We View the Present

  There was a wonderful moment earlier today. I was dressed and ready, cup of coffee in hand, sitting in the living room. The kids weren’t up yet. My view was of a calm and clean room, with the bright greens of spring looking in on me through the window.

 

The possibilities of a peaceful morning stretched before me.

 

But before I could act on them, the kids woke up.

 

And my view changed to chaos.

 

Instead of a clean room, there was a pile of toys. Instead of quiet space to write and reflect, there was whining and neediness everywhere.

 

view of past, present, & futureThis is one of life’s great temptations: to view the past as full of good memories, the future as full of possibilities, and the present as full of inconvenience.

 

We have to consciously change our view. And see the present with the eyes with which we might view it from the future.

 

To focus on the hand-holding more than the hair-pulling. To notice the smiles more than the cries. To play and laugh and wrestle and tickle, and view those things as the joy they are while the days are upon us.

 

As Andy Bernard said at the conclusion of The Office, “I wish there was a way to know you're in the good old days before you've actually left them.”

 

So in the midst of the stresses, I want to change my view and see more. I want to see that the good days that are upon me.

Five Minute FridayThis post is linking up with Lisa Jo Baker’s Five Minute Friday. A weekly prompt with strict instructions: write for 5 minutes and post. No over-editing. No do-overs. An practice of freedom. A way to let go of perfectionism. An exercise for some not often used writing muscles. Read more posts or link up over there. Today’s prompt was: VIEW. (Full disclosure: I write the post in 5 minutes, but I take a little extra time to create a graphic to go with it. I think that's still okay according to the rules...)

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Permission to Have Ordinary Days

Source: overcoming-obstacles.tumblr.com via Stephanie on Pinterest

“What you do today is important because you are exchanging a day of your life for it.” –Author Unknown

I ran across that quote on Pinterest yesterday and immediately repinned it. I love words that push me to seize the day. To not take any moments for granted. To live life to the fullest.

These words challenge and inspire me. Usually.

But something different happened yesterday. After I read this quote, the words planted an unwanted seed in my thoughts: discontent.

I tend to think of great days as ones on either end of a spectrum. I adore days that are gloriously wasted in fun and relaxation. I also feel satisfaction when days have been strategically used up for work and accomplishments.

I have a tendency to loathe the days in between. The days of television watching and errand running and dish doing and game playing. Days filled up with time slipping away and me wondering how I wasn’t able to do that other thing.

Yesterday was that kind of day. It actually had a few extraordinary moments, as I sent my oldest off for his first day of kindergarten. Before he left, we took pictures. When he got back, we went out for ice cream. Smiles brimmed wide as we forged memories. But besides those moments? I don’t know what happened. My day slipped away.

I went to bed feeling restless. Streams of discontentment meandered around my thoughts as I wondered for what I had just exchanged a day of my life.

That is not a faith-filled perspective on daily living.

It seems to me that belief in God is meant to bring a sort of balance in how we see time.

Life is brief. We are dust. Like chaff blown in the wind.

But we are also eternal. We have a never-ending future in front of us as this life flows into the forever God has prepared.

An emphasis too strongly on either side seems to miss the abundant life we are meant to have in Jesus.

The key element of keeping our perspective in balance, I think, is trust. We need to trust that God is who He says He is and will do what He says He will do.

That means trusting that there is in fact a heaven waiting for us. We don’t need to suck the marrow from the bones of each day because this life is not all that there is. We can be content in good days and bad, extraordinary days and ordinary ones, knowing that our future is a long winding road of everlasting life.

But it also means trusting that God is moving in and through us each and every day. That our lives are an act of worship, and God cares how we spend them. That we should walk with open eyes and a sensitive spirit. That no moments should be taken for granted.

I love to dream and accomplish and experience and squeeze the potential out of everything. It’s no surprise, then, that I struggle with the former more than the latter.

So today, I am giving myself permission to have more ordinary days. I need to learn to seek contentment in God, not in my experiences. This is my act of trust.

Do you need permission to have more ordinary days? Or do you need to be pushed to seek more extraordinary ones? How do you keep a balanced perspective on time?