It is time for a look at my third New Year’s Goal.
3. Enjoy the moment. Stop looking for the end of things.
You can read about my second goal here.
Recently a leader in our church, Dieter F. Uchdorf, spoke on Regrets and Resolutions. You can read the whole amazing talk here.
In his talk he shared the following:
“So often we get caught up in the illusion that there is something just beyond our reach that would bring us happiness: a better family situation, a better financial situation, or the end of a challenging trial.
You and I are ultimately in charge of our own happiness.
My wife, Harriet, and I love riding our bicycles. It is wonderful to get out and enjoy the beauties of nature. We have certain routes we like to bike, but we don’t pay too much attention to how far we go or how fast we travel in comparison with other riders.
However, occasionally I think we should be a bit more competitive. I even think we could get a better time or ride at a higher speed if only we pushed ourselves a little more. And then sometimes I even make the big mistake of mentioning this idea to my wonderful wife.
Her typical reaction to my suggestions of this nature is always very kind, very clear, and very direct. She smiles and says, “Dieter, it’s not a race; it’s a journey. Enjoy the moment.”
How right she is!
Sometimes in life we become so focused on the finish line that we fail to find joy in the journey. I don’t go cycling with my wife because I’m excited about finishing. I go because the experience of being with her is sweet and enjoyable.
Doesn’t it seem foolish to spoil sweet and joyful experiences because we are constantly anticipating the moment when they will end?
Do we listen to beautiful music waiting for the final note to fade before we allow ourselves to truly enjoy it? No. We listen and connect to the variations of melody, rhythm, and harmony throughout the composition.
We shouldn’t wait to be happy until we reach some future point, only to discover that happiness was already available—all the time! Life is not meant to be appreciated only in retrospect. “This is the day which the Lord hath made … ,” the Psalmist wrote. “Rejoice and be glad in it.””
This talk really struck a cord in me. I find myself, quite frequently, looking towards the end of things. I look to the next vacation, or the next Friday. I look for the end of a tough situation, or the end of the long day. I look towards the next paycheck or the next project. When I heard his words, I realized that there was a lot I was missing in between all that. I was missing the Importance of the Moment.
How silly is it to impatiently wait for the next Friday, when we still have Monday – Thursday ahead of us? By my doing this, I realized that I have unintentionally reduced the joy in my life. I was forgetting to enjoy the moment, while always looking towards the next. The main problem with that is, I created a life that was only full of endings. The rest had become “stuff to get through.” Here is one good example that I think most moms could relate too.
Each evening, once I start dinner going, I start to feel a little anxious and excited. Because it is the mark or the beginning of Getting the Kids to Bed. Especially if it is the end to a long day. So I find that I start to rush everything. “Hurry and eat. Run brush your teeth. Go faster! What is taking so long! Hurry, Hurry, Hurry!” soon become the motto of the evening. I am so looking forward to that moment when all my “toys” are put away. I can’t wait to just sit and have that moment to relax. However, once I get there, I start to think of what is coming for the next day. All too soon that moment is over and it is time for me to go to bed and start all over again. Many times I go to bed feeling tired and discouraged that I have to “start again” so soon.
After hearing that talk, I realized that by my spending so much time looking towards “what comes next,” I had created a never ending cycle of discouragement and stress. I can’t even enjoy my Relax Moment because I am already thinking about the next day! Even my Relax Moment isn’t relaxing because I bring the guilt of how I Holler and Hustle my kids to bed.
“Yeah, but Tannie, it was a long day, you deserve a break.”
I am realizing that if I take more time to enjoy the moment I can be relaxed, even in the middle of a long day. I can enjoy the rambling endless story about a train that is friends with a banana. There is a distinct difference between listening and enjoying the imagination of your child, then tolerating the telling and just waiting for it to end. When I enjoy the current moment I am in, I see into my families eyes more often. Too see love and happiness there is a Relaxing Moment in itself. When I enjoy the moment, I appreciate what is around me more often. A pretty sunset, a warm dog, a cloudy sky, a yummy smell. When I hurry through it, I miss those small, but important things that are what bring us joy.
I have noticed a very big difference in my life by heeding to the council in that talk. I am really grateful that I was in a time and place to hear it and learn from it. It is something I have to work on everyday. I can’t undo 34 years of being an End Looker in just one day, month or even a year. I suspect it is something that I will always have to strive for. However I hope it will get easier with practice.
So here is to looking and living in the moment. Taking the time to see the small things and when an end arrives, make it a beginning.