When the Future Looks Better than the Present

I have a friend (who I’ll call “Taylor”) who always wants to do the next exciting thing in her life. In the past, she has often been looking forward, as she has planned out her future and dreamed about what lay ahead of her. However, she has never seemed to be content in the present.

When Taylor started high school, she wanted to find a boyfriend. When she found a boyfriend, she wanted to get her driver’s license. When she got her driver’s license, she wanted to get married. The cycle continued and is still continuing in Taylor’s life. She wants to move onto the next thing, and once she gets to the next thing, she wants to move on. I didn’t understand why she couldn’t simply enjoy the present.

But then I realized that I am a lot like Taylor. In fact, we are all a lot like Taylor. We don’t usually mean to keep rushing ahead, rather than enjoy the present. But we’re all flawed, short-sighted, and discontent human beings.

When I started high school, I wanted to take community college classes. When I took community college classes, I wanted to attend a 4-year college. When I began attending a 4-year college, I wanted to graduate.

The cycle is continuing in my life.

The Cycle of Discontentment Can End

But the cycle doesn’t have to continue. The cycle of trying to rush from one season of life to the next season can change, but we must pause to ask ourselves: What are we rushing to? What are we trying to achieve? Why are we so eager to be in the next season of life?

Every season holds its own struggles and challenges, so the reason we want to move on is not necessarily to escape from hardship. Sadly, we are often eager to enter a new season of life because we are envying others’ circumstances, rather than finding contentment in our own.

After all, we look at those around us to see if we are measuring up. We wonder if we are walking through life at the same pace as others and often feel jealous of those “ahead” of us. Society is pushing a hurried lifestyle, and the people we know are part of that hurried society; so we feel like we’re missing out if we’re not walking alongside them in every step of life.

But God didn’t create us to be robots. His plans for me are different than His plans for you. Those plans–for your present and your future–are designed specifically for you.

The Secret of Contentment

When thinking about contentment, we might automatically think about Paul and the trials he faced in his life. In the midst of these trials, he relied upon the Lord’s strength. He found contentment in the present through Christ.

Not that I speak from want, for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need. I can do all things through Him who strengthens me. (Philippians 4:11-13 NASB)

Can we learn to be content in every situation, even if those situations and circumstances aren’t ideal? Maybe they will be periods of waiting, loneliness, frustration, anger, fear, or even boredom. To be honest, no season of life will be ideal—not even the season when you find your dream college, dream spouse, dream job, dream home, etc.

Looking to Christ for Contentment

We must learn to say, “I am content” no matter what our circumstances are. Our time on earth is limited, which makes it so valuable. We cannot waste a single moment wishing we were elsewhere, including the future.

Contentedness can’t be found in finding perfect circumstances or getting to the “next big thing” in life. Rather, contentedness can only be achieved through Christ Who strengthens us (Philippians 4:13). He can use every season of our lives–no matter how exciting or boring it seems–for His glory. Therefore, we must learn to fix our eyes on Him, not the lives of others, when learning to be content in the present.

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