“Finish eating everything on your plate because there are starving children who would love to have what you have.” Those were the instructions I heard regularly growing up, which was fine except for those lima beans that I would have given to any starving child. My parents didn’t waste anything, they wanted us to appreciate what we had.
When someone wastes something we wish we had, we shake our head with disgust. We wonder to ourselves or to anyone who will listen about them wasting something so valuable. Waste is really a lack of appreciation for the value of what is being thrown away, or not used properly.
One of the most precious gifts we have is time. While each day is the same in its length (24 hours), and each week is the same (7 days), how many we will be able to enjoy in our life is different. Our life is unique to us, we won’t have the same health, or live the same number days.
Yet even knowing this, I confess I’ve wasted days. I’m not proud of it, and maybe I’m the only one, but my hunch is we all have from time to time.
If you are like me, it happens when life didn’t go as planned, or when expectations aren’t met. Think about days we’ve wasted living in the past or wishing we were experiencing something else. We weren’t enjoying the present.
It’s especially common when we’re in a transition of life, like being unemployed. When you’re in a job search, often you spend time wishing it never happened and you were back with your old job, or dreaming of the future at your new job, or whatever is next for you. And we waste those days in the middle. It robs us of our joy.
I recently read an article by Emily Perl Kingsley and while it was written for a different reason, it’s applicable to all transitions. Let me share her analogy as it relates to transitions.
Imagine your dream vacation is to go to Italy, or maybe you’ve been blessed to regularly visit Italy and you’re going back. It’s a wonderful country, I’ve been there myself. It has Rome, Naples, Venice, Tuscany and more. It also has history, wine, great food and on and on. When the plane lands though, the flight attendance says, “Welcome to Holland.”
You’re now in Holland, and you need to say for a while. How much time will you spend wishing you were back home, or in Italy? Probably a lot. And every moment you spend anywhere but where you are, will be wasted time, time you cannot get back. Yes, you aren’t in Italy as expected, it’s disappointing, but that happens in life. If you look around, Holland is a very special place to be. It has windmills, tulips, Rembrandts and more. It’s a nice place to be, if you’ll start focusing on and enjoying life in Holland.
If you are frustrated over life not meeting your expectations, I understand. However, you’ll help yourself by focusing on today. As hard as it is, forget the past. It’s history.
“Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past Isaiah 43:18
Don’t worry about tomorrow either, it hasn’t come yet, and we don’t know what it will bring.
Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life? Matthew 6:27
Enjoy and live life today. Learn to enjoy the present because it’s the only thing you can impact and it’s where we need to find our joy.