by Rachelle Williams
When we were planning the Experience Meridian meeting and talking about everything there is to do here, most of us were pretty surprised at all of the things we were missing out on. One of the biggest complaints I hear about Meridian is that there just isn’t anything to do, especially for kids. But come to find out, that’s not quite accurate. We just weren’t seeing what was right in front of us.
I’ve been reading a book called “Loving My Actual Life, An Experiment in Relishing What’s Right in Front of Me” by Alexandra Kukendall and I thought it was appropriate to share an excerpt of that. She’s talking about how crazy busy her life is and not being able to find enough time in the day to get everything done. All of the things she was doing were important and alone, they gave her happiness.. but all jammed packed together, she just wasn’t happy as a whole. She knew something needed to change. She mentions a couple she is friends with that their family of five moved off to Argentina for a year and how exciting it was seeing their posts on Facebook of all their new adventures. She then says:
“And yet I knew that wasn’t the type of drastic move that would be a reality, or really even a desire, for our family. There must be a way to create a fresh start right here, I thought. To love the life I actually have and not one I fantasize about because it’s an escape from my reality. Could I make small tweaks to be more present?
But how does one fully savor the right here when there seem to be barriers in the way? The ‘if onlys’ and the ‘whens.’ If only I had more money or more time, I could… When I have this in place, then… I couldn’t wait for the perfect life to arrive to enjoy it. I could wish my current circumstances away for days on end, but the major things were unlikely to change. I needed to work with what I had right in front of me. I needed to learn to love my actual life.”
I purchased this book very intentionally because this is something I personally struggle with. I get so caught up in my head about all of the things I need to get done, or things I wish were different, or things I wish I could fix.. and I set ridiculously unrealistic time lines for these things. “I want to lose 10 pounds, have all the bedrooms painted, the closets cleaned out, teach our kids how to properly behave in public and double our savings account all by the end of this week.” I convince myself that if I could get these things done, then I could finally rest. Then I could finally be happy. However, in trying to achieve these absurd goals, I’m continually missing out on the here and the now.
In the book of Philippians, Paul was writing a letter to Christian believers. He was in prison, facing death, certainly not the best circumstances, but still he wrote:
“I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. I know both how to have a little, and I know how to have a lot. In any and all circumstances I have learned the secret of being content—whether well fed or hungry, whether in abundance or in need. I am able to do all things through Him who strengthens me.” (Philippians 4:11-13)
Contentment. Paul wasn’t born with this. He didn’t have some super mighty spiritual gift of being content. He said “I have learned to be content…” He learned it. He chose to accept where he was at and find happiness there. We all, no matter what our circumstances or where we’re at, have to learn to find contentment there.
As moms of young children, our lives can get so busy and so stressful that it’s hard to not complain and throw pity parties at times. It’s hard to see the beauty of cheerios all over the floor and poop on the walls and meltdowns in the middle of the grocery store. One of the most common and best pieces of advice people give to new moms is “Enjoy it, they don’t stay little long.” I looked at my oldest son the other day and I heard this advice again in my head. I had a mini panic attack and thought to myself “Oh no! He’s not little anymore! All those people that told me to enjoy this time… that time is gone! Did I enjoy it enough?!” After I recovered from that and realized how dramatically I was overreacting, it still occurred to me.. I don’t ever want to look back and wonder if I enjoyed it enough. I don’t ever want to look back and wish that I would have traded my time on Facebook for cuddles with my kids. I don’t want to look back and wish I’d spent less time stressing and fussing and complaining and more time just enjoying my family. I want to live in the present and find contentment there. I want to find happiness in what is right in front of me.