“And don’t be wishing you were someplace else or with someone else. Where you are right now is God’s place for you. Live and obey and love and believe right there. God, not your marital status, defines your life.” (1 Corinthians 7 v.17, The Message)
When you’re 15 and at home, it feels like it will last forever.
When you’re 18 and still at home while your peers go off to Uni, it still feels like forever.
Then there comes a day when you remember: this is fleeting.
When you’re making a birthday cake for one of your sisters and thinking: this could be one of the last ones I make for her at home.
Or playing on the beach with your family and remembering that the summers of you all playing down here aren’t going to go on and on forever. In fact, it could be your last summer at home.
Realising that makes you live life differently. Because whilst you might have better things to do (you think) than hugging your sister, or reading a story, or letting them help cook, or dancing round the kitchen, you realise you don’t have forever to do this, you learn to take the hugs because you don’t want to look back with regrets in a few years’ time.
Part of the baggage of stay-at-home daughterhood can be the feeling you are going to be at home forever. That life is going to carry on like this forever whilst everyone else is out there having fun. That God somehow forgot you when he was making the good plans and then hurriedly created one out of ‘duty & structure’ and forgot the ‘adventure & fun’ parts.
It’s taken until this year for me to realise I’m living on borrowed time with my family.
Next summer I could be married. Or I could be leaving home to do a Masters degree. Or I could still be here.
The point is: I don’t know.
You don’t know.
We don’t know how long we’ve got and sometimes it takes a shake up for us to stand back and realise how precious a thing we have got. I was in such a hurry to grow up. My teen years seemed to last forever because I wanted to be ‘an adult’. I have to live with the regret that I did waste some of them wishing for life to hurry up. But by now, they have woken me up to the fact I only have this time once. Sooner or later – and it’s looking like sooner now – my family life as I know it is going to break up.
Then my siblings.
And this time of us at home – it’s never going to happen again. We’ll never be this tightly knit unit in the same way again. We’ll still be close. We’ll still be family. But we’ll have our own units.
Because however long it appears to be going on for – it will come to an end.
I want to know that I lived each moment now. That I didn’t waste time I could have spent with my family. That I didn’t waste energy on things that didn’t matter. God doesn’t make mistakes and He certainly doesn’t set out to punish us with our lives. He may allow hard times (this isn’t a ‘God wants you to be happy full stop’ talk). In fact, He does. There are things in our lives we don’t understand, especially when we stand by the idea of a loving God. I’m not debating that. But this whole ‘staying-at-home’ thing, I really don’t think it’s part of an eternal punishment to assign us to the viewing gallery of life. He has a plan. Part of that plan has been the families He’s placed us in. Families we love, families we get exasperated with, families we spend a huge amount of our time with, families who will help shape us into who we are, and thinking of all that time spent with them as a waste of time, pretending we’re sitting in the waiting room of life whilst other people’s trains go past the window – that’s a waste.
The adventure started way back – the day you were born, the day you became His.
It may not be the adventure you’d have written. It may not even look like an adventure to you. But that may be your perspective. Our role is to glorify God – and a sour face rarely, if ever, does that.
I wish I’d learnt the lesson sooner.
But I didn’t.
So I have to learn and live it now.
I’m not advocating an ‘eat drink and be merry for tomorrow we die’ lifestyle. I’m asking you to consider living the life God has given you now and to enjoy it and share it and use it. Because it is fleeting and I don’t think there’s anything worse looking back than regretting something.
Invest in now.
You don’t want to live regretting the time you could have spent with your family but were too busy resenting how it seemed to drag on.
If you need permission to let go of the future (worrying about it isn’t going to solve any problems anyway – I’ve tried it. There are always curves in the road we didn’t see coming and paths God takes us down that weren’t part of our plan) – take this as it. Let go of it and live now. Love now. Invest now. Enjoy now.
“What I’m trying to do here is to get you to relax, to not be so preoccupied with getting, so you can respond to God’s giving. People who don’t know God and the way he works fuss over these things, but you know both God and how He works. Steep your life in God-reality, God-initiative, God-provisions. Don’t worry about missing out. You’ll find all your everyday human concerns will be met. Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now, and don’t get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow. God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes.” (Matthew 6 v.31-34, The Message)