We all feel tension no matter what age or stage of life we are in.
It’s the reality of today and hope for tomorrow, what I call the tension of the “now” and “not yet.”
Now – The role you play, the relationships you have, the job you do, the opportunities you are experiencing, or the limitations you feel.
Not yet – the dreams you have, the next season of life (maybe it’s dating, marriage, children, finding good friends), promotions, goals for the future.
When Kristin and I started our ministry career, there was the reality of now: I was working in maintenance, she was babysitting while staying home with our kids. We were volunteer leaders in the youth ministry and had no idea what the future held. We had a lot of “not yet” dreams and goals. Even though that was almost 30 years ago and we’ve come a long way, we still experience this tension to some degree.
So how do we thrive in the tension of the now and keep excitement for the not yet? As I’ve thought about this question, here are four things God invites us to do in the tension. Depending on your wiring, it’s going to look unique to you. Here’s how I approach them.
INVITE God into your day.
Once I am on my feet, I start my day in the Bible. I desperately needed it thirty years ago, and I still do. Daily, I find a verse that jumps out at me. It will often come back into play later that day or week. I also pray every day. I begin the prayer time with these two lines – “Heavenly Father, I invite the Holy Spirit into my day to lead me, give my insight to your heart, words to say, and know when to be quiet. I also ask that you give me wisdom and courage to face every person and situation that is before me today.” Since I started doing this daily a few years ago, I have seen an amazing increase in my ability to live each day knowing God is with me. He is always there, but we must invite Him to join us.
ASK God to start with You.
My life revolves around people. They are the greatest joys and sources of pain, and this tension is consistent over the years. I stand in awe of many people using their gifts, talents, and personalities. I also stand in bewilderment at some of the things people do that don’t make sense to me. I am wired to be critical and judgmental of others in those moments. The only person I am in control of is me. I must be responsible for my own words, thoughts, and actions. I spend time in my prayer time asking God to help me with those things that I struggle with regularly. I ask Him to search my heart and thoughts and show me where I lack. I ask Him to forgive me of my sins. I repent and continue to move toward words, ideas, and actions that will draw me and others closer to Him. It is a stark reminder of how fragile I am, and it brings a sense of humility when the mirror doesn’t lie. By starting with yourself, you establish yourself in a great mindset to go through your day interacting with others.
CHOOSE to let your words and actions be positive, honest, and produce growth.
If you are going to do anything with people, you will have to make a choice. The tension is making the right choice. It will bring a positive or negative impact on others. A positive choice will use that decision to move someone forward with empowerment, and a negative choice holds them back or pushes them down. Here is what I focus on daily. Let me be positive by seeing the best in people and situations. Knowing the grace God gives me, let me share that same grace as I spend time with others. Let my words and actions accentuate hope and potential in each situation. I will be honest. I do this while giving value, honor, and respect to others. One of the most significant ways we can demonstrate our love for others is, to be honest with them. Finally, I want to see growth. The only time we aren’t growing is when we quit. When others succeed, we get the benefit of that.
LOVE Others…no matter what.
I am at a stage in my life where I don’t want to hold a grudge or offense. Even thirty years later, this is a daily tension. People and situations do things that hurt and wound. I choose to love them anyway. Forgiveness is one of the most vital tools you have for longevity. Those people are still accountable for their actions, and there should be consequences. Forgiveness is an action of the heart…your heart. When you forgive, you permit yourself to move on in freedom.
The tension of “now and not yet” is just as prevalent today as thirty years ago. The “now” moments run the spectrum of exciting and challenging. The “not yet” allows us to dream while asking questions. I have grown more from the uncertainty in both than the certainty I have from each on its own. My hope is you will find the approach that will allow you to thrive in the tension of both.