Today I woke up and decided to go to church. I haven’t been in a very long time, probably since Easter. I’m one of those holiday-only churchgoers these days; being married to an agnostic will kind of do that to you. So as you would expect, I don’t go in for a lot of the religious stuff. I get very uncomfortable when anyone says things like “The Lord has a plan” or “God wouldn’t give you anything you couldn’t handle” or mentions that they prayed for anything at all. (I mean in the serious “I prayed to the Lord for him to grant me XYZ” kind of way and not the “I pray that NBC and TWC work it out so I can get back to my regularly scheduled Heros-watching” kind of way.)
So when I dragged my ass (whoops I mean my REAR, sorry J.C.!) out of bed this morning at 6:30 so that I could make the 8:30 contemporary worship service, I was a little aprehensive. The only thing I was praying for this morning was that no one would try to shove any religious bible-beating down my throat. I just wanted to go, feel in the presence of something bigger than myself, say my peace to God or whomever, (oh yeah, let’s not forget pray for a baby) and leave. But at the urging of a friend and colleague that also attends my church, I also attended Sunday School this morning. We watched a Christian video (the name/producer of which escapes me) that amazingly had a message for me that I must really have needed to hear today.
I’ll spare you the details of the video (which was actually really modern and very interesting), but what was discussed broke down to this: Genisis speaks of the Tree of Life in the Garden of Eden, and Revelations speaks again of the same tree that is the healing of all things between man and man and man and God. A bunch of stuff happens in between, but basically everyone is just hanging out waiting for that wonderful end when we’re supposedly told that we all go to heaven and live in the paradise that God has created for us. But what about that in-between place? What is the meaning of all that? So does this mean that all the thousands of years that man has walked the earth have just been a kind of holding-pattern for something that’s gonna happen…well…eventually?
What are we supposed to do with that? All I can say is that my life is like this. I spend 99% of my time hanging out between the trees, waiting for something good, bad, or indifferent to happen to me. What am I doing with the time I have been given? What am I doing with the tools and gifts I have been given? What meaning does my life between the trees really have in the grand scheme of things? How can I create something useful, meaningful, and important in this time I spend just….waiting…?
Let’s face it – just waiting for stuff to happen to you sucks. Good, bad, or indifferent, the waiting part sucks. And if you waste the waiting time just waiting, what meaning and purpose does your life have? This is the question I have been asking myself since this morning. And the answer came to me as I was returning to my pew after communion, when I began my post-communion prayer. As much as I wanted to pray for myself to find hope and encouragement, as much as I wanted to pray for those I know struggling with life and fertility and medical troubles and emotional heartbreak, the only word that came to my mind and heart was this…
Amen, amen, amen.
I have a wonderful husband, sweet caring parents, supportive, loving in-laws, and faithful friends. AMEN.
I have my good health. AMEN.
I have a beautiful home filled with everything I could ever need. AMEN.
I have a vocation that brings me joy every single day. AMEN.
I have a car that runs, dogs that drool, shoes that fit, and clothes on my back. AMEN.
I am surrounded by people who continue to enrich my life, challenge me, support me, and laugh with me. AMEN.
And for as much as I sit around wishing my car was faster, my wardrobe was flashier, my dogs were less drooly, or my stomach was flatter, I have to remember to be thankful that I have been blessed with the gifts of these things in my life at all. And what that tells me is that in this life I live between the trees, waiting for the next blessed thing to happen to me, I can spend the time using my gifts and my skills for something bigger and more important than myself. And maybe instead of sitting around saying that I’ll be happy when I finally arrive at some ultimate destination that I believe will make me happy, I can instead choose to be happy in the moment, thank the universe for the ability to even live in this moment, and feel all the more blessed when finally I do get what I pray for all that time.