Jesus

living outside the parenthesis

I usually skip over the stuff in parenthesis. If I’m reading a textbook, you can for sure count me out. If it’s longer than a few words, same rule applies. And maybe I’m extra lazy, but I think most of us probably have the same attitude towards whatever’s inside the parenthesis- it doesn’t really matter. It’s not important enough to spend even three extra seconds on. We’re not missing much.

Early last semester, I listened to a pastor speak about a “parenthesis life.” How we need to stop living “between the parenthesis.” And when I think about it now, that’s exactly what I’ve been doing. I’m willing to bet whether you realize it or not, to some degree you probably are too.

I’m a senior in college. I’ve got a lot behind me at this point and even more ahead of me. I’m not a kid anymore, but I don’t do a whole lot of adult stuff yet either. I’m just kind of…waiting.

Maybe you’re waiting too. Maybe you’re in high school and you’re waiting to go off to college where you can do your own thing and finally have some independence. Maybe you’re like me and have a few short months left of college and are anxious to be part of the “real world.” Maybe you already have that coveted real world member status and have done some exciting things- got married, bought a house, found a job, had a baby- whatever it is for you. But now you’re settling back into routine and waiting for something new, for things to be exciting again.

Maybe you’re waiting for a promotion or a change of career so you can finally feel purposeful in your work. Maybe you’re waiting for your kids to get the heck out of your house so you can finally do some things you want to do. Maybe you’re tired and burnt out and are counting down the days or months or years til you can finally retire. This is applicable in any and every stage of life.

“Wherever you are, be all there.”
-Jim Elliot

It’s tempting to wait. It’s tempting to look towards the future at what will happen next and think then I can do something meaningful or then life will be fulfilling or then I’ll have everything I want and more. It’s tempting to live between the parenthesis- convinced this season or stage of life doesn’t matter as much as the next one will or the last one did. Convinced that by focusing on the future or past, we’re not missing much in the present.

But we are!!! There are a lot of lives I could invest in, a lot of memories I could make, a lot of growing I could do in my last few months at Anderson. It’s not a whole lot of time and I do have some really exciting things just ahead. It’s great to have things to look forward to. But we are given opportunities to love and to serve and to grow and even to just have fun and enjoy life every single day. And we can’t miss those because we are focused so heavily on where we want to be next.

We’re all beginning a new year. Some of us are beginning a new semester, others a whole new stage or season in life. Don’t let it be one of waiting- of excusing yourself from living meaningfully right now because something better is coming. Something great is already here! It’s called the gift of life, and I for one don’t want to live mine between the parenthesis.

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