A few weeks ago, I was hyping my friend up for the date she was about to go on.
I cracked some jokes back and forth, texting with her about how the night would go. She wasn’t too excited about it and was feeling nervous. Then I got a message that took me back just a little bit. It said, “Rico, this whole dating thing was supposed to happen years ago.” I turned on the protective brother mode, turned off all the jokes, and spoke encouraging words to her. But that text that was supposed to be a joke prompted a lot of insecurities. She doesn’t face them alone. I have them too.
My friend went on her date, and she had a great time (no second date though—sorry, buddy!) I kept thinking about what she had written and about how many times in the last two years since college I have shared those feelings. “This was supposed to happen years ago.”
There are days when those feelings become very real.
Especially as I scroll through my Facebook and Instagram feed on a lonely day, eating a late night snack by myself. By just about any measure, it feels as if my life stopped making any real progress years ago. When I think about buying a house, being in a relationship, getting engaged, or even getting married, I tend to think life has left me behind. All because I want my life to progress in a particular order (and the sooner, the better).
While I have days in which I feel as if some of these things were “supposed to happen years ago” and they still haven’t, one of the best parts about believing in God is that I have another option. On my good days, I take a step back from my Facebook and Instagram feeds and take those thoughts to God. Sometimes it’s a simple statement of “Hey, I don’t get why this has not happened.” Sometimes it’s “Hey God! This is really tough. Will you help me?” I will admit those prayers are difficult prayers. As a 20-something male, I am a little embarrassed to admit I pray. I like to be independent and do things on my own strength. I love having control. I am guessing I’m not the only one who struggles with it. A verse from the Bible has hung in my office the last few months because it caught my attention. It says “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness. Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.”
God’s grace is sufficient for me? What about all those things that I think I need that I don’t have? What about my timeline for my “great” life? What about my “weak” prayers of “I need help with this?” Are you telling me I should boast all the more gladly about those things? That in those things I will find power? What in the world? This is the complete opposite of everything that I have imagined.
As I set my school office up for another year, I started thinking about some of the greatest Bible heroes and when they found their purpose. A huge leader named Moses was 80 years old when he stood before Pharaoh to lead an entire nation out of slavery in Egypt. Another named Abraham was 100 years old when his firstborn son arrived. Yet God gave Abraham a cool promise that he would be the father of many nations. A promise that still stands to this day. I am sure when these things happened to those guys they thought their best days were behind them. I can imagine being Abraham thinking, “This was supposed to happen years ago.”
If we are honest with ourselves, we probably all have hopes and dreams of what life should be by now and the things that have not taken place yet. I know I do. But if I choose to dwell on that, I miss everything that God has to offer me right now. The past six months have been some of the coolest moments of my life. But I have to choose daily to focus not on what I do not yet have, but on the life that is right in front of me. It has allowed me to be content and joyful with the greatest blessings that I have right now. One of those blessings is the time that I get to devote to the profession of being a teacher, the time that I have to coach cross country (although running for fun was never really a dream), the time that I have to show up to dinners with my team, the time that I have to invest into people that are younger than me, the time that I have to lead a mentoring program (Whiz Kids) for ESL kids. These are things that have come as a result of God’s grace being sufficient for me. In my moments of weakness where life seems to have left me behind, and I feel like I have missed out on something—I really haven’t. My path is just a little bit different than other people’s. My life is having a meaningful impact, and it’s okay not to have some of the things that I think I need.
Some of my best friends are married.
Some of them have bought their first house already. Some of them have moved to cool places. Some of them have started new jobs. Those are great things that are bringing them a life that is meaningful. They have felt led by God to go or invest their time and resources in those places and things. However, there is no formula for having a meaningful life nor is there a particular timeline to achieve it. I have none of those things, and I am living a life that I love and is hopefully impacting the world around me.
God never promised me that things would be easy. He never promised me a house, a marriage, or even a dog one day (although they seem to be chick magnets so maybe I’ll get on that path soon). Someday, I am sure I will have some of those things, even if it’s just the dog. But for now, the promise that He would guide me and that He wouldn’t leave me nor forsake me seems to be more than enough. I’m sure Abraham and Moses at their age felt the same way. They didn’t understand why these things were happening, but it was what God had placed in front of them.
A meaningful life is right at your fingertips. Look at the world around you. Look at who needs your time. Look for who needs a friend. Maybe it’s even as simple as having lunch with the person that annoys you at work. After all, the only thing any of us really need is God’s grace. Impact is not measured by what we have or don’t have, but rather by the love that we put into the things God has given you right now.