Maybe my laughing out loud was really a way to ease the pain of the conviction I felt when I saw it because deep down I knew I needed one.
About a year ago, my husband and I stepped into the South African embassy to apply for our third born child’s citizenship. We literally walked through the doors as if we were visiting the home of our parents. Compare that to the moment prior when we had been at the American embassy, where we were required to leave our cell phones in the car, walk through heavy bullet proof doors and metal detectors, and place of all our belongings in a secure holding area.
One country felt quite relaxed. Calm and slow. Almost unnaturally so.
The other country, my country, felt on high alert. Anxiety stricken, as if everything and everyone was out to get them. Protect and preserve mode.
+ + + +
On the counter of the South African embassy in a Free-Take-One stand is where I saw them. A stack of pocket calendars. But it wasn’t a typical one year calendar with space to plan the next 365 days. It was a pocket calendar for the next ten years. TEN YEARS!
My husband and I both literally laughed out loud at the sight and made some jokes about it as we waited for our paperwork.
I think God must have bookmarked that moment in my mind because I cannot forget it. The 10-year pocket calendar keeps popping into my mind. Perhaps because it was just so weird to me! Imagine whipping that out your purse each time you went to schedule an activity.
Our western minds naturally think in minutes, hours, days, and weeks. We secretly value the pace of a hyper, frenzied squirrel and we don’t know how to stop. Whether it’s in our over-busy, fatigue breeding plans or our worry obsessed, worse-case scenario mindsets- we are good at wearing ourselves out.
Hello 10-year calendar.
You remind me to slow way down.
Now, I know what some of you are thinking.
Perhaps you already feel complacent, you’ve been sitting on some far-off dreams and stirrings from God for too long. I should get busy, get to work, and be more disciplined, you’ve been thinking to yourself.
I get that. With many areas in my life I feel the same way. I simply cannot wait. Not one more second. I feel myself getting older and the mantras of those around me doesn’t help.
Life is short. Do it now. Don’t wait. Start. You will regret it later.
We love to focus on the life is short part, don’t we?
But what if the abundant life happens when we treat our days like a favorite book we don’t want to end, or like a rich dessert that requires tiny bites, or a hike through mountain wild flowers where we’d be foolish not to stop and stare?
+ + + +
My husband reminded me recently that life is short but it’s also long.
Life is short, but it’s also long.
I needed to hear those words, especially in this current phase of life where I feel jittery and anxious, and I’m constantly trying to preserve and protect my time, my sanity, my dreams, and my plans. Maybe you need to let those words interrupt your day too.
Life doesn’t just feel as if it’s slipping through my fingers like sand, it is slipping through my fingers and I can’t do anything to stop it.
Wisdom beckons me to pick up the ten-year calendar instead my slim and sleek 12-month planner.
The slow and deliberate steps, deep purpose and restful confidence of the people you have chosen to let go of having to do it all today, this week, or even this year are intriguing to me.
In the gracious presence of such people, don’t you feel welcomed and at ease, unhurried and unmoved by the persistent pressure and breathless pace of the world around you that says DO MORE and BE MORE?
We all know it’s impossible to map out the details of the next 10 years of our lives. But perhaps that’s exactly the point. All over the world there is talk of embracing the moment, making a difference right now, and focusing only on our temporary, brief existence.
Although this is inspiring- to see the beauty of each day and moment of life- I can also run myself ragged with this view. A constant state of stress and panic takes over when I am consumed with how to fix situations, rescue people, and find significance in my life TODAY. I become overly concerned with the progress of my dreams and growth as a person. Making a difference can become a little god I worship.
+ + + +
Try this with me. What’s one thing you are wanting right now? Where do you notice low-grade anxiety or stress creeping in?
Now take a step back and take a deep breath. As you blow out, blow your needs and wants and fiery dreams across the pages of His calendar for your life. Let the wind of His Spirit move them around.
As we make room for His timing to unfold in our days, there will certainly be a few areas where He’ll nudge us to loosen our grip and need for control.
Our lives are not measured by the total of what we accomplished or how much we improved ourselves each day. We can all let the pressure out of our tires a bit.
+ + + +
I’ll end with this. My husband and I have a friend who keeps a next life list. An exciting, ever growing list of crazy dreams and big ideas he is going to undertake later. Much later.
He understands leaving this earth with no regrets begins by celebrating his identity as a forever one.
What would happen if we lived in this tension- letting the ache of eternity invade our hearts, while also steeping ourselves in expectant hope and reckless joy for each new day.
What do you need to put on your next life list (or ten-year calendar!) so you can stay in step with what the Spirit of God is doing in and through you right now?
Verses to ponder: Ecclesiastes 3:11, Psalm 5:3, Psalm 27:14, Psalm 90:4, 11, Psalm 130:5, Proverbs 16:9, Proverbs 20:24, Matthew 6:25-34, John 3:8, Galatians 5:25, 2 Peter 3:8