This evening, as I drove home from my exercise class, I got stuck behind a really slow car. You know the kind – the one driven by a little old lady. As the traffic zoomed by in the slow lane to our right, anger and frustration bubbled up inside of me like a pot of hot water ready to boil. Right before I reached 212 degrees, I remembered the words that I recently read in Robert Wicks’s book Streams of Contentment*:
“I needed to learn again and again the value of looking out the window in the morning and seeing what is – not moaning about what it could or should be.”
In other words, rather than being frustrated by what I felt should be, moving much more quickly along the road, I needed to let go and just be content with the way things were. So in the spirit of the book, I cranked up Taylor Swift and sang at the top of my lungs.
And you know what? My anger and frustration dissipated as quickly as it had boiled up inside me. I began to smile and laugh at myself. There is a certain comfort and joy that comes from not only being yourself, but not allowing yourself to become stressed over trivial things.
I think that often we have a tendency to believe that “the grass is always greener on the other side.” We look out the “window” of our life and “moan about what it could or should be.” We want to make more money, redecorate the house, have a family, or tone those pesky love handles. Sometimes we get so caught up in what “should be” that we forget to appreciate the way things actually are.
When my husband was going through TBS (The Basic School) for the Marine Corps in Virginia, I remember many wonderful discussions about this same concept in a women’s bible study of which I was a part. We often discussed how we were eager for the six months of training to be over so that we could find out our husband’s job and duty station. The temporary nature of our situation was often frustrating.
I recall one wife chiming in that she too was struggling with this idea but was really striving to find joy in where God had her at the moment. She said that when she stepped back and looked at her life, she had much to enjoy and be thankful for at that moment. If she became too caught up in where they would be stationed next, she would miss out on all of the wonderful memories that were currently being made.
Similarly, I often find myself frustrated by my current situation. I want desperately for Isabelle to be here with us. However, there is nothing that I can do to change that. Rather than dwell on what “could or should be,” I need to live the life that actually “is.” This is extremely difficult on trigger days.
Although the last six and a half months have not played out the way I had imagined, God has still blessed my marriage and allowed moments of happiness in my life. Focusing on these moments, rather than going through life on cruise control, is crucial.
So, as tempting as it is to dwell on how I feel things “should be,” I am going to crank up Taylor Swift and live each moment I have been given as fully as possible.
*Wicks, Robert J. Streams of Contentment. Notre Dame, IN: Sorin Books, 2011.