I guess I haven’t told a lot of you, but at the very last minute I decided not to enroll for my class at UD this semester.
I arrived at this decision for a variety of reasons. First of all, looking at things from a scheduling standpoint, our semester will be particularly crazy this fall. I am not only dealing with 1 fulltime job and 1 partime one, but both Jesse and I are becoming very involved at church. Jesse “serves” at the altar every Sunday and teaches Sunday School, while I sing in the choir every Saturday and Sunday. That’s right, I sing in the choir! Not typical for me, but I love it. I’ve even started taking voice lessons for fun from a music performance prof at SMU. Jesse is also very busy as he is full time at UD along with teaching 3 classes at “Flexing Poplars”.
Add onto our “normal routine” the fact that we are moving in 3 weeks, are in Tim and Hope’s wedding, and have a god-child on the way in 2 months, and I suddenly realized I was crazy to be filling my ONE-NIGHT-A-WEEK-OFF with a 3 hour class.
And it got me thinking about the way I’ve lived my life thus far. As many of you know, I have always been a sprinter. No, not the running kind, the scheduling kind. If I have free time on my hands, I feel that I have done something wrong. For example, I graduated from high school in 3 years while playing Varsity sports year-round, maintaining a 4.0+ GPA, and participating on Student Council every year. I graduated Summa Cum Laude from college in 3.5 years while getting married, working fulltime, and going to Europe twice.
To say these things isn’t always a proud moment for me. Yes, I like to be motivated, but there is a huge part of me that has always envied those who were content to slow down, who weren’t terrified of the future. What I mean is that I was always so focused on my future goals that I was scared I wasn’t doing enough in the “now” to get it all accomplished. Sometimes motivated people are just frightened that if they slow down, they will cease to know which way is up or down!
I was convicted of this for the first time, sad to say, when I went to confession with my priest. Normally, confessions are meant to be private, but there is a small part of this particular one that I would like to share. I confessed that I had not felt merciful towards others in the least lately. When someone got in my way in the store, I would suddenly feel a small outburst of ferocious anger towards them in my heart. If someone cut me off on the freeway, I wanted to smash my car into their bumper, despite how little sense it would make. And, despite the fact that Jesse is almost always going out of his way to do things for me (he says he even plays a game called, “see how much housework I can do before Kelly notices”), the minute he messed up in the slightest I was incensed. “What is wrong with me?” I asked. “Why am I so incapable of showing God’s love towards others?”
Usually the priest doesn’t say anything until the end of your confession. Even then, sometimes they say little to nothing at all. This particular time, however, Fr. Joe said a lot. He started by saying that this type of “lack of mercy” is very common in someone who is so focused on the future that they cease to function in the present. They are so goal motivated that they are constantly living for the future instead of enjoying the now. As a result, they cease to really “see” the people around them. It’s very hard to have mercy when you cannot see people and their faults for what they really are.
Fr. Joe didn’t tell me that I needed to cut activities out of my life, he just challenged me to think about this fact. And it got me thinking. It seems that I am very often doing one of two things. A) I am borrowing from the future for the now. This is where my problem with finances comes in. I have gotten better, but I have always had a problem saving money. I definitely have the “I need this now!” complex that Dave Ramsey is always condemning. Or B) I am borrowing from the now for the future. I am so focused on my goals that I will make my life insanely busy and, if I dare say, miserable, all so that I will be one step ahead in the future.
And I’ve gotten so used to one of these two things that I have never learned to enjoy the present.
And it would be a shame, I realized, if I couldn’t learn to do that now, of all times. For the first time in my life, I LOVE my job. We also have wonderful friends available to us, a wonderful church that we are heavily involved in, without the responsibility of children yet. This is probably the happiest I have been in a very long time!
So the question doesn’t become, “Could I do a class too?” Sure I could. I somehow always seem to make time. No, instead the question becomes, “why would I want to ruin this time by being over-committed?” I need to remind myself that UD will be there, next semester, when I am not getting the hang of a new job or moving to a different city.
Please pray for me as I embark on this new experience of “living in the present” instead of borrowing from it!