Living in the temporary

It’s just temporary.

We’ve heard it, said it, and lived by this phrase. At least I have.

This job, this location, this stage of life, who we are even, is just temporary. We are working towards something else, something better. Something more exciting. Temporary makes us feel better about where we are, reminding us there is a bigger goal we have set our eyes on. It makes us feel like we are going somewhere important. And sometimes, we are.

But temporary is a not always a peaceful place. In fact, sometimes it’s an excuse. Because while being goal-driven has its obvious advantages, it can also prevent us from living fully. We focus on our aspirations and dreams, and neglect today. When our mind is in temporary mode, we never settle in. We don’t invest. We go into situations with our hearts held back, our passion held close, and our minds distracted. I know this because I do it all the time. I’ve so often viewed my situation as short-lived, and have glossed over the days. I just want time to pass quickly so I can get to my destination. So I can live in the world of what I think will be permanent. (Preferably permanent income.)

But in all my history of temporaries, permanent has never arrived. And I think I’ve finally stopped anticipating that it ever will. It’s time to be who I want to be today. I’m tired of waiting for tomorrow.

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

We often share this verse to remind ourselves or others that God is in control and has a plan. But we tend to neglect the context. When God says this, the Israelites are in exile in Babylon, and they are going to be there for a long time. Just verses earlier God tells them to settle into the city, to marry and have children, to seek the good of the city. In a place that is temporary he tells them to invest. Many of them wouldn’t even see the end of exile. I have a feeling this wasn’t so encouraging at the time.

I do believe God has a plan for us. But I’m not always sure it’s the plan we expect. We want Him to tell us where we are going, and neglect to ask Him who we are. We forget that His desire is to be in relationship with us, today.

I do believe He knows what will happen, that he directs our path, and desires our well-being. But if we only focus on the expectation that He will bring us out of places that we think of as temporary, we won’t be able to see how He wants to use us in each moment. You might not like the temporary. Perhaps you have the power to change your situation, and should just get up off the couch. Or perhaps you know that God has you right where you are for a purpose.

So even if you know it won’t last forever, don’t hold back. Invest. It’s worth it.


Photo (Flickr CC) by Elisa Paolini.