It’s nothing new to say that we live in a competitive, comparative society that is heightened by the frequent use of multiple social media sites. However, I do have what I hope is a new perspective to share.
Recently, I was having coffee with a friend who is a new mama to her second baby in less than 17 months, and she confided that people are already asking her if she thinks she wants to have more kids. I shared with her that people sometimes asked me that too and we talked about how irritating the question is to us both.
It’s not just parenting that this happens, though:
When you’re single, the question is whether there’s anyone you’d like to be dating.
When you’re dating, the question is whether you think this is “the one.”
When you’re engaged, the questions are all about the wedding.
When you’re married, the question is when/if you will have children (or buy a house or get a new job, car, and so on).
When you’re pregnant, the questions are whether or not you’re going to find out the gender at 20 weeks, if you think you’ll have a boy or a girl, and maybe even what names you’re considering for the baby.
When you’re a parent to one (or more), the question is if you’ll have another.
You get the idea. All of these questions are branches off of the same “What’s Next” tree that it seems we all are tempted to live under.
The problem of living under the “What’s Next” tree is that it feels like the unspoken thought behind the question is that “What’s Right Now” is not good enough or worth focusing on, delighting in and talking about. It can’t possibly be all that you’re going to do, after all, it’s only (you fill in the blank here)…
I’m confident that if we stopped unintentionally asking each other “What’s Next,” it might help us slow down a little bit and be more grateful for “What’s Right Now,” even if it’s hard and pushing us to our limits. Even if “What’s Right Now” is exhausting and causing us to doubt sometimes.
Maybe it would help us not run ahead of where God has us and what he is trying to teach us at the moment. Maybe, just maybe, we could learn to be like Paul when he talks about learning to be content in every circumstance. Maybe we wouldn’t be so afraid to help carry each other’s troubles, so we don’t go through them alone.
Philippians 4:10-14 says: “I rejoiced greatly in the Lord that at last you renewed your concern for me. Indeed, you were concerned, but you had no opportunity to show it. I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength. Yet it was good of you to share in my troubles.”
Paul got it. We need each other (community) and we need God. In our current circumstances, no matter what they are.
The prayer I’ve been praying when I struggle not to compare or compete (even if it’s just against myself or against my own expectations) is, “God, please continue to equip me for this calling.” That can be your prayer at any stage, dear one.
Whether you are in the season of singleness, dating, married with or without child(ren), single parenting, divorced, it doesn’t matter. God wants to meet you in “What’s Right Now,” and to help you not worry so much about “What’s Next.” Will you invite him to help you do that? I know I need to!