Out of the Woods
It had been an incredibly full, fun and exhausting weekend. We had managed to even squeeze one last boat ride into that morning and managed to leave only a half hour later than we had planned. The girls pleaded with me to tell them when we could return “up north” again, the boys had blown kisses as our minivan made it down the winding driveway out of the woods and I had cried. I truly ache for that place every time I leave. For better or worse, the bittersweet feeling in my gut couldn't stay there long for their were four children who were soon voicing their requests, concerns and questions:
“How long 'til we get home?” “Are we going to stop at the park again?” “Do we have any snacks?”
Now let me just say that we have good kids...truly. The almost 5-hour trip up had gone quite smoothly, minus the more-than-occasional lost pacifier, misplaced blankie or unreachable coloring book. But hey, considering that most adults don't enjoy sitting in a car for that long of a time I can't say I blame these less than 6 year olds for their ants-in-the-pants nature either.
Halfway into the return trip home, I remarked to myself that things were once again, going quite smoothly, perhaps even more so than on the trip up just 3 days prior. No one was sleeping (really?) but no one was really complaining, either. The girls were busy coloring and drawing pictures in the back and the boys were taking in the sights and sounds of rural Wisconsin while making an occasional sound of excitement or a recently made up tune. And that's when the over-active, anxiety-ridden part of my brain started to kick in:
Sure, they're good now. But we still have more than TWO hours to go! Mel, do you know all that can happen in TWO hours? Those two hours can feel like a lifetime if even just one of the four decides to start to loose it. Don't get too comfortable – you're not out of the woods yet!
I was doing it again.
What point was there in not allowing myself to enjoy the peace which filled the minivan in that particular moment? Some times I think I truly believe that if I worry about something that could happen before it does, it somehow won't be as bad IF it does occur. But the truth is, I cheat myself out of my own peace by allowing my anxious thoughts to take over.
Have you ever felt that way when it comes to your own life? Things can seem to be going so well, so smoothly that we almost wait for something to go wrong. We anticipate the bad day that we figure will inevitably strike during a stretch of good ones. We roll our eyes when someone compliments the behavior of our kids in public thinking – or maybe even saying out loud – “Yeah, you should see them once we get in the car!” rather than just taking the compliment for what it's worth and enjoying the fact that at that very moment, the children are behaving themselves!
Do you “borrow trouble” from tomorrow?
If you're anything like me, it's time to put an end to robbing ourselves from the peace in the moment that could be ours. After all, our heavenly Father has control over all things. Did you catch that? ALL things. And just because you or I anticipate or worry about the possibilities of what may happen, doesn't mean that they are any less or more likely to happen. If God grants you a harmonious evening with your spouse, be grateful. Don't start thinking about how your husband will most likely disappoint you the next morning but leaving the sink full of soggy cereal and his underwear on the bathroom floor. If your boss offers you a promotion as a result of your consistently incredible work, don't focus on that one co-worker who you are convinced will make your days a nightmare once she finds out. If the Lord sees fit to bless you with a bonus or an unexpectedly large tax return, praise Him for His goodness rather than trying to figure out just what in your life is going to break and require a costly repair.
Because you know what? Your husband might not disappoint you tomorrow. That co-worker might not let her jealousy get the best of her. The car might not be in need of an expensive trip to the mechanic's even after the tax return. And today may be all we have. If we don't allow ourselves to feel the goodness in the moment or experience the happiness that one of God's gifts can bring, then we deny ourselves the fullness of God's grace which He Himself has planned for us.
In case you are wondering, the rest of the trip went fine. We did indeed stop at "the park" which is steadily becoming a traditional stretch-your-legs spot. I even managed to convince my husband to pull off on a side road a few times to capture some images of the sun as it sank lower and lower in the sky. Both boys began to lose their patience about 45 minutes from home but it was nothing that a few goofy jokes and rounds of "Old MacDonald" couldn't cure.