On Living in Betterwhen…

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It’s been years since she said it.
But it still rings in my ears.

It was a Thursday morning when she came into my office at the church, where I work in full-time, vocational ministry.

She came for some other reason, now forgotten in the passage of time.
But we started chatting.
And somehow she ended up asking me, “Kathy, what do you want?”
My mouth engaged before my heart told it to shut up and I blurted out its deepest cries:
“To lose weight and to be married.”
I don’t know if that was what she was expecting – but it was the brutally honest truth.
And then she said the thing I will never forget.
She said, “Kathy, God is not enough for you.”

The anger was instantaneous.
How dare she!
Didn’t she realize who I was, what I did for a living? (And how those two things were intertwined?)
After all, I worked full-time for God! How could He not “be enough for me”?
But before I could scrape together a sweetly scathing reply, the Holy Spirit intervened. He whispered to my soul, “Listen to her. This is from Me.”
And so I just said, “What do you mean?”
And while she tried to give me some perspective, she didn’t give me what I wanted. She didn’t change what she had to say. She simply repeated it: “God is not enough for you.” And the Holy Spirit didn’t let up, either, even as I stood there completely befuddled.

She left shortly after that.
And I was left mentally scratching my head, wondering.
At the end of the day, when it was finally quiet, I sat down at my computer and started journaling, trying to process what she had said and what the Holy Spirit wanted to say.
As I journaled, He gave the clarity I was seeking.
He whispered, “You live in Betterwhen, beloved.”
“Huh?” I replied.
“You live in a constant state of believing that life will be “better when”. Better when you are married. Better when you lose all the weight you want to lose. Better when your finances are better. Better when.”

Ton of bricks moment. As in, I felt like they had just been dumped on me.
Because He was right. (Imagine that!)
That was my constant state of thinking.
“Today is OK, but life will be much better when I…”
It was a pattern of thought that I did not even realize controlled me.
And I had to be honest with Him.
I had to say, “OK – You are so right. But I have no idea how to change that.”
And again, an unexpected answer.
“This is the day the Lord has made; I will rejoice and be glad in it.” (Psalm 118:24)

And that was the beginning of an internal shift.
A choosing.
Choosing to not look back and to not look ahead of this day as much as possible.

I have to say, that weekend was pretty hilarious – in retrospect.
I asked God to show me what that meant – and HOW I was to rejoice and be glad in it.
And He said, “Be thankful in all things. And all means ALL.”

The next day my toilet innards and my tub faucet both broke.
A dear friend came to help fix them.
And I managed to flood the upstairs bathroom while she went to get a part we needed.
Didn’t realize it until water started dripping from the kitchen light fixture.
And then my car broke down the next day.
That night – or rather, early that Sunday morning, I woke up around 2 AM with the worst cast of the stomach flu I have ever had – then or since.
And through it all, God said, “This is the day I have made. CHOOSE to rejoice and be glad in it.”
I will never forget that weekend – or what I learned.

I learned that being grateful is a choice.
And that it is daily job.
Choosing to be grateful for THIS day. No matter what it holds. There is always something to be thankful for. Always.
Not dwelling in the past.
And not living for the future when life will change.

Of course, I have to look ahead in some ways.
Events are coming, like Easter and VBS.
Calendar dates are approaching, like my niece’s graduation from college and my next birthday.
Financial obligations are here and need to be dealt with or planned for accordingly.
And there is always an opportunity to learn from the past.

But neither the past nor the future are where I choose to live.
I cannot change the past.
And I cannot control the future.
All I can do is make the most of this day.
Being grateful for where I am today.
Am I married? No.
But I am grateful for the freedom that brings me. Freedom in finances, in what to eat for dinner, in my schedule and even how much of the bed I can sprawl over.
Because today, this day that the Lord has made, I am single.
And it is a gift to be used for His glory.
Would I like to be married? Sure. (I think. OK, honestly, some days more than others.)
But no matter what my marital state, THIS is the day the Lord has made and I WILL rejoice and be glad in it.

I cannot control the future.
All I can do is make the most of this day.
Being grateful for where I am today.
Am I at my ideal weight (by anyone’s definition)? No.
But I am grateful that I am healthier today then I was when she asked me that question.
And I am grateful for how God has used this external, life-long struggle to shape me internally.
Because today, this day that the Lord has made, there is a number I don’t like, both on the scale and in my jeans – but that is not who I am.
I have learned that I am a beloved daughter of the King of Kings, a Princess who is dearly loved, not for her stats but because she is His.

I still find myself slipping into Betterwhen.
In fact, that was the inspiration for this post.
I found myself solidly there last night and this morning – before my quiet time.
But then God reminded me that I am His.
And He is mine.
And I do not know when I will see Him face to face.
Maybe today.
Maybe tomorrow.
And maybe years from now.
But whatever time I have is not to be lived in the future tense, wishing, waiting, hoping and dreaming.
I can have hopes and dreams – but they are not my Hope.
And life will not be perfect when fill-in-the-blank happens.
Single or married.
Fat or thin.
Rich or poor.
(Or whatever fills in your blanks.)

It will still be life. With choices. And struggles. Spiritual battles. Fighting temptation. Failing at times. Succeeding at others. But constantly walking with the One who gave me life. Today.
Because life is to be lived today.
Gratefully.
And tomorrow is not promised.
Perhaps tomorrow I will wake up in the Land where life truly is Betterwhen.
Better when I see Jesus face to face.
Better when I am done with this struggle with sin.
Better when all that is wrong is made right.
But until then:

THIS is the day the Lord has made – I WILL rejoice and be glad in it!

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