In ten days time I will be getting married.
As I meet with my fiancé, I’m often saying things like – “I can’t wait!” and “I wish the wedding was today!”
Honestly – that’s how I feel. The next ten days will be busy – and will have work and waiting – in preparation for the big day.
And all of me just wants that day to be now.
It’s funny, because Instagram stars will often say – “Live in the moment.”
Yet, this call to be present will often be accompanied by an image which is anything but ordinary.
Drinking cocktails at a swim-up bar.
Standing upon Mount Maunganui to watch the sunrise.
Snorkelling around crystal-clear waters.
Exploring an ancient city.
Each of these experiences has the potential to be beautiful and momentous. But to use them as object lessons of a life living in the moment is an absurdity.
Even when people do attempt to capture the every-day moments of life – they do so through the editorial of phone placement, filters and multiple shots. We want each moment to look beautiful and be exciting.
And even when we want to live in the moment – we try and turn each moment into something that simply looks good.
See, I think the advice to be present is great advice. But the assumption that this will turn every moment into an momentous period is wrong.
Today I’m going to be driving through Auckland, which means I will be sitting stationary in my car. From my perspective – it’s not going to be a glorious picture. I’ll see rows of taillights, I’ll be glancing at the clock, I’ll be slowly coasting forward.
To be present in that moment does not it will have to look pretty or be socially sharable. But it’s a recognition that there’s goodness in the waiting – and that most of life is lived in these ordinary times.
God Carpe Diem-ed
When I read the creation account of Genesis 1 – it is clear to me that the pinnacle of creation is God making humanity in his image. There’s a sense of expectation in the story – it is looking forward constantly – that there’s something more coming.
And on the sixth day of the story, that something comes.
I love that God could have spoken this all into existence in a moment. Yet, he chose to create in time – and chose to wait.
Day one – God makes light. I’m sure that would have been a spectacle to be seen – but yet, there wasn’t much else to be seen. And God waits.
Day two – makes sky and sea. Again – moments of beauty, but the universe was still devoid of life and complexity.
And in this story, there’s a subtle message to us.
God is present in each of these moments – and there’s no rush. God is happy with his timing – he’s happy to wait. Although he may have been yearning for the fullness of creation – he was OK to be in the moment before that happened.
A few weeks ago, I had to call a company to clarify a purchase I’d made. Unsurprisingly, I was put on hold.
The phone would ring three times. Then an automated message would tell me my call was important to them, and to hold the line.
This happened for 23 minutes.
Normally, this would infuriate me. This was not a moment. There was no Instagram photo I could take to make this beautiful. This was the definition of waiting.
So I tried to put this into practice. To live in the moment when the moment was very lively.
I used the rhythm of the ringing to pray – using it as a simple metronome for praying the ancient Jesus prayer.
I used the recorded voice to remind me that I was waiting to speak with a person, made in the image of God.
And after 23 mins, when I finally got to speak to a person – I was more rested, and more ready for the moment than I had been before.
Seizing the moment and living in the present is not always as sexy as it sounds. It involves traffic and cleaning, washing and work.
Yet there’s worth in the waiting. Most of life is spent in these moments.
And learning to seize these moments does not mean them becoming beautiful, deep or meaningful. Instead it means we learn to bring beauty, depth and meaning to these moments – through our art of waiting.