What have I done with my life?
This question has been a ghost in the back of mind lately; it simply lurks there, and then in the most inconvenient times it jumps out to haunt me once more. I’ve discovered that the source of this unfortunate doubt is my upcoming twenty-third birthday, as well as, the five year anniversary of my high school graduation, both in May. Yes, I do realize that twenty-three isn’t that old and five years isn’t that long, so you’re probably wondering why in the world that would give me any apprehensions at all. In reality, that should be my attitude toward these two events, instead all I have been able to focus on is just how little I feel I have accomplished in that amount of time.
To be completely honest, for the last few years my least favorite question that anyone can ask me is: “What are you doing now?” In my mind, this is a loaded question; It’s a weapon laced with judgment and malice hidden beneath a clever disguise of someone who is just making genuine conversation. And you know what? Most of the time they really are just being friendly and their intentions aren’t villainous at all, but I can’t quite embrace that fact because I’m too caught up in my own insecurities and embarrassment of my position in life right now. The truth is, I’m not where I thought I’d be by now and I’m still not where I want to be later. I feel as if I’ve been stuck in the quagmire of the in between for longer than I would like to admit. Some of this feeling of stagnancy has been caused by my own decisions and some of it is due to circumstances out of my control, but neither of these things may bother me quite so badly if I wasn’t caught up in the comparison trap.
“Comparison is a silent killer.”
My pastor, Jason Simpkins, just made this statement in his sermon last Sunday. We willingly subject ourselves to envy, doubt, and pride as we log onto our social media accounts and scroll for hours and essentially look at how “fabulous” everyone else’s lives are. However, as Pastor Jason puts it, we’re only really peeking into someone’s highlight reel**. We’re seeing the play-by-play of their college graduations, their awesome vacations, their marriages and babies, their new careers, etc. There is nothing essentially wrong with this if we genuinely want to keep in touch with one another and stay connected. The problem, however, arises when we start looking around at those highlight reels and start thinking there is something wrong with our own lives because they couldn’t possibly measure up to those of everyone else. We start to question every decision we’ve made and wonder why our lives aren’t hitting the stride we’d planned to be in by now.
We look at their highlight reels, and immediately all we can see are our own fumbles.
In reality, they all have struggles in their lives too. It may be cliché to point it out, but it’s the truth: Nobody is perfect. Something I feel demonstrates this point very well is the blooper reel at the end of a film. I have always enjoyed watching the bloopers and getting a quick glimpse of the actors behind the characters. There is just something truly beautiful about watching people laugh at their mistakes instead of being paralyzed by them; it allows me to connect with them on a level that is very human. Also, as a performer, I know how easy it is to not be able to get through the rest of a scene in rehearsal because we’re all laughing too hard. Of course, you would never want that to happen in a live show, but honestly there is less of a chance of that happening because you were able to learn from the mistakes you made in the rehearsals.
God has been revealing to me that I’ve been looking at everything with the wrong perspective. No, I’m not where I thought I’d be five years ago, and you know what? That’s a good thing! Just like those mistakes in rehearsal, I’ve been learning things in this season of my life that are extremely valuable for all of the seasons to come.
Many are the plans in the mind of man, but it is the purpose of the LORD that will stand.
God is the author of each of our unique stories, and my chapters may not look anything like yours. We all need to accept that for ourselves and for each other. We have to stop comparing our lives and we have to stop trying to mold everyone else into doing what we think they should be doing too. We have to stop being too embarrassed to be able to live our lives to the fullest.
“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the LORD. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” ~Isaiah 55: 8-9
In focusing so much on how my plans haven’t worked out, I’m stealing my own joy out of the moment that I’m in right now. Instead of blooming where I’m planted and prospering with the resources I’m given, I’m looking over at the roses and wishing I could be in their position, never realizing that in doing so, I’d have to bare thorns that weren’t meant for me. When we become so preoccupied with everything we’re not and everything we don’t have, we can’t see all of the beautiful things God has already placed in our lives. It’s the simple pleasures that will help remind us that life isn’t only lived in the big events that make the highlight reel.
It’s lived through the peace that comes from knowing Christ.
It’s lived in the way that first sip of coffee in the morning warms your whole body.
It’s lived in the ever changing colors of the sunset and the windows down on a warm spring day.
It’s lived in the spontaneous night time snowball fights and the smiles from your precious baby cousin.
Life is truly lived when we stop focusing so much on staging the perfect picture and start embracing all the laughter that comes from the bloopers.
So, my beautiful dreamers, this post is my way of accepting the fact that my life’s not perfect. This is me saying that I’m human, and sometimes I get discouraged, but I’m going to try to start focusing more on the things that truly matter. This is me admitting that no, I’m not where I wanted to be, but I’m right where I need to be…and maybe, just maybe, you are too.
Cheers to embracing the bloopers that life throws at us! Here’s to accepting them, learning from them, believing God has a plan for them, and perhaps even broadcasting them in order to connect to one another on a deeper level.
Some of my favorite bloopers to prove they really can end up making sense:
**Pastor Jason Simpkins of Northbend Church inspired some of the points in this post, as well as, helps to keep me encouraged through his own passion. His latest message (When God Doesn’t Make Sense 3/6/16) was a core source of my newfound encouragement. If you’d like to check it out, go to the Northbend Church home page, then once you’re there you can navigate to the sermon archives.