Then vs. Now
As college students, we often find ourselves anxiously waiting for the next adventure in store for us. Or at least I do. Even now I catch my thoughts drifting to my plans for the next few days and how I have to endure my work shifts to get to the fun. Unfortunately, this future-focused thinking can prevent us from being present. Our physical bodies are here, while our minds are in a different world often full of planning, worry, and anticipation. To get caught in this mindset is to miss out on your life happening here and now. So many people say "I just can't wait until I'm done with school," or "I'll be happy when I find my husband and start a family" and so on. We forget to take some time to just be still each day and simply appreciate the air in our lungs we’re given to breath.
Future-focused thinking can stem from the idea that we control our lives, that we know what's going to happen a year from now or even tonight. To believe we can control this places a load of pressure on ourselves to make sure that we act and perform perfectly. This pressure leads to worry and stress. Consequently, we start to numb the stress through obsessive planning. We plan to eventually be happy and not stressed, but only once we arrive at the place or thing or person who we imagined in our minds. Yet, once you reach that, does your satisfaction equal the amount of worry and stress and planning underwent? Probably not. Or even bolder, I'd like to say that's impossible. You can spend hours, days, or years planning and worrying for something, but it's impossible to give the same amount of time and energy into celebrating whatever it is when it comes. This raises the question of why we worry so much. I think it’s because we believe we are in control of our own lives.
A future focused mindset can be toxic when you're banking on your hope / joy / happiness or peace to come from finally arriving at that place, thing, or person. I've spent many years trying to be fit and eat healthy, both good things, but my mindset was only future focused. I was never happy with how my body was, I kept saying "once I get this, lose x lbs, etc" then I will finally lay off and let this not stress me out, but for now I have to worry about it some more. Or with friends, I would do anything to make friends, including sacrificing time I should've spent as down time or getting wasted to feel less uncomfortable and hopefully make some memories. But afterwards, I'd still feel empty or that they didn't like me enough or think, “wow, I can't believe I said or did that embarrassing thing, they're probably not going to want to hang out with me again.” Relying on society standards or people's approval for my happiness seemed to not work out.
If you can relate to a future focused mindset and the emptiness that drags along behind it, I encourage you to question why instead you don't try to look for joy in your daily life. If you believe in God, I'd say take some time & thank Him for what you have right now in your life. Take 10 minutes to sit in awe and marvel at how the God who created this universe loves you so much that he knows the exact amount of hairs on your head. That He has mapped out your life perfectly to give Him glory and to even add in daily reminds of His love for you, if only you take the time to see Him. Keeping this eternal and present mindset is important because when someone looks outside of God for fulfillment, they're always going to be thirsty. Depending on a future plan or idea or goal to bring you joy and peace will never truly satisfy you. If you don't believe in God, I'd just like to challenge you to take a few minutes to really think about why you don't. I'd challenge anyone in this position to question what our hearts are actually made for and why nothing they have done truly satisfies them? Why do we always want more and more of what we desire?
God most desires your heart and once you've given that up, this world has the opportunity to become so much more free and full of Love💗