It's All in the Details
If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be? You can even pick two spots if you want—one for summer and one for winter (because those are the only two seasons that exist—right, TX people?). Blake and I play this game when one of us (mainly me) is in the mood to dream. We could live in New York. In East Village. We would walk everywhere close and take the subway around Manhattan. We would eat delicious food, see a Broadway show every month, & smoke cigarettes—because they aren’t bad for you in fake life. I do this often, dream like this, maybe because I’m a romantic who loves to travel—or maybe because in fake life, there isn’t anything unsatisfactory. No inconveniences. No errands or traffic or schedules. No obligations—unless eating is an obligation. No sickness or interrupted plans. Nothing that would hinder my perfect world because there are no details. Just concepts and an abstract utopia. We don’t live there though, & if we did, I’d still play the game.
We live in the details of everyday life, and if you have been awake for more than a second today, you have probably felt less than satisfied about something. You’re tired. You’re not looking forward to that meeting at work. You don’t feel well. The weather is gross. Or maybe life seems pretty great but you just feel off and that annoys you. First thoughts of the day are often overwhelming because we have the whole day in front of us. But what if we chose to focus on different details? What if we woke up feeling a breath of fresh air fill our bodies because we feel joy for our day?
Non-satisfactory feelings are normal. We live in a broken world, a world that is not meant to be our eternal home. But you and I get to put forth the effort and decide how we will channel those feelings. In my opinion, there are two paths.
I think I can say that most people feel some level of anxiety when on the brink of trying something new. Whether it’s your first day of kindergarten, first day on the job, or first day at home alone as a new mom—it’s a little scary because it’s filled with unknown. If you’re like me, it’s easy to draw into yourself in attempt to figure things out—fast. Nobody can know you don’t have it all together because everyone else obviously has it all together. This fuels anxiety, people. This usually leads to comparing yourself to others because you have already set others as your standard. You initially became flustered over how you would stack up to others, and now you are comparing yourself to see if you’ve done your homework well. Comparison, for whatever reason and in whatever capacity, always ends in one of two ways—pride or guilt. You compare to see if you’re doing better or worse than someone, yes? So if you are doing better, pride begins to sneak in. If you aren’t doing as well, guilt is your new home. The bottom line is you are never satisfied, and both of these feelings breed sin. What’s interesting is we can easily go down this road day after day, not realizing we were meant for another path.
It’s two o’clock in the morning, and I wake to stirring on the baby monitor. I go to her room to feed and rock her back to sleep. Very easily, I could be filled with thoughts of how I’m losing sleep and other negative emotions. Or I could choose the other path—the one that chooses to focus on how I can both fill and be filled by the present situation. In her book, 1,000 Gifts, Ann Voskamp says, “to give thanks is an action and rejoice is a verb and these are not mere pulsing emotions. While I may not always feel joy, God asks me to give thanks in all things, because He knows that the feeling of joy begins in the action of thanksgiving….I accept the gift of now as is—accept God—for I can’t be receptive to God unless I receive what He gives.” So I don’t think about sleep. Instead, I take note that she instantly calmed when I picked her up.Thanksgiving. I was able to provide nourishment for her body and her soul.Thanksgiving. Her tiny hands brush my skin, and we know each other.Thanksgiving. This season won’t last forever—in fact, I’m told it’s all too brief.
Gratitude is how we stay in constant communion with Jesus. Voicing gratitude throughout the day is an intimate form of prayer that intertwines with the flow of daily life.
Gratitude brings joy, and when we have joy, we find beauty where we are. Your role in this current season of life is vital to the Kingdom—let go of the control you work so hard to grasp. It is then you will find joy in being used for His glorytoday. J.R.R. Tolkien reminds us “all we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us.”
Thanksgiving is this week, and for many, that means there are a lot of details to focus on in an attempt to make the perfect day. The house must be clean, the table decorated, recipes perfected, family to host, and a smile maintained while doing it all. In the past, even as a kid, I felt the pressure to make everything perfect, and when the details didn’t pan out like they did in my mind, I unraveled. Everything seems ruined, and I had failed. This year will be different, though, and the days following, as well. We get to choose the details we focus on. We get to choose to see the imperfections in our meal or the company we have been given at our table. We get to choose. Every tiny detail—look for them— sweet words exchanged with your love, the sun bringing warmth or maybe the rain bringing fresh air, the first time to share this holiday with your baby girl, the release of your own laughter when you spill iced tea all over the floor. We get to choose where our focus lies. There are millions of details to each of our days. Which will you remember?