January 12, 2018

It’s All Good / Patti Lamb

The ‘meantime’ is all we’ve got, be thankful to God for it

Patti LambA New Year is upon us. Flip on any television or radio station and we’re bombarded with messages reminding us of our New Year resolutions. We hear commercials encouraging us to lose weight, quit smoking, eat healthier, go back to school, get to the gym and much more.

Marketers remind us that reaching our goals will bring us happiness and fulfillment. I suppose a resetting of the physical calendar is a good time to push goal chasing.

For some of us, however, this sense of goal chasing isn’t limited to early January. I’ll explain what I mean. I fall into the unfortunate habit of making statements like this. “If I could just [insert goal du jour here], then all will be well.”

Recent issues I’ve inserted into the statement above include, but aren’t limited to:

  • Sell the house.
  • Get my son through this semester. 
  • Understand how to get through to her. 
  • Pay off the (item).
  • Lose enough weight to fit back into my pants.
  • Get a good night’s sleep.

The list goes on. And on.

Do you ever find yourself chasing happiness, telling yourself that if you could just get through this or that, then it’s smooth sailing ahead?

A colleague with whom I work and consider to be a friend and mentor is a gifted writer. One day, Jennifer told me that she plans to write a book called In the Meantime.

She said that we’re all chasing something, but until we get there—wherever “there” is—we’re living in the meantime, which can also be called the present.

It’s important to be present in the unglamorous, ordinary moments, Jennifer told me. Whether that’s time spent supervising your children’s homework, or working in an office where there’s more work than people to do it. The meantime is a blessing, she assured me, because it’s all you’ve got and you’ll never get it back.

Jennifer recently shared that she is fighting cancer. Her first surgery transpired just before Christmas.

On the afternoon she made our work team aware of this, she told us it’s going to be a long road. She asked for prayers for the journey. Later that evening, Jennifer texted me to see if I was OK. She was more concerned about me processing the information than her own well-being.

The most important living we can do is right now, Jennifer said. She has inspired me to do a better job of loving those God has placed in today’s path.

One day, a diagnosis might come our way that we’re not expecting. Or we might receive a call with horrific news that there’s been a tragic event involving a loved one.

Ordinary days, surrounded by those we love, even if those loved ones drive us straight to Crazy Town, are blessed days.

Most of life happens in the meantime, Jennifer reminds me, so I need to stop wishing my kids’ science fair projects away and enjoy them already. Creating a science fair board with Henry for three hours on an unseasonably warm Saturday afternoon in December is an opportunity to spend time together.

I ask all of you prayer warriors to please include my friend Jennifer in your prayers. She believes in the power of prayer, and tells me that she can feel those prayers lifting her. But she has a long way to go.

Let’s savor every day of this New Year, even if it’s not how we would’ve envisioned it. The meantime is all we’ve got, and we’re thankful to God for it.

(Patti Lamb, a member of St. Susanna Parish in Plainfield, is a regular columnist for The Criterion.)

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