and ramblings on everything in between
I recently took the train to Chicago to visit a friend and on the way up a father and his young son sat in front of me. It was clearly the 4-year-old’s first time on a train and he was enamored. His face and hands were plastered against the glass as the train took off. He excitedly called out every object he could see as the landscape zoomed by. “Dad, there’s an old barn!” A little bit later, “Dad, look! There’s an airplane!” Everything was exciting and new for him.
Later on, the child had settled into his seat when his mom called to see how the two of them were doing. The father had the speaker phone on so I heard a gentle voice ask, “Are you having fun KJ?” He responded, “Know what the coolest part is? There’s a table on the seat in front of me and I’m using it to play with my Legos!” Of all that was around him, the drop down table the size of a folder delighted him the most.
My pastor recently preached on money and stuff, two things we constantly want more and more and more of. His message revolved around having a strong work ethic and maintaining a positive attitude at work. One point that resonated with me was making the most of where you’re at. We are human, therefore we will always long for bigger, better, brighter things. It’s in us to want more from life, I think. For the past few years, I’ve focused on paying off my student loans so there isn’t a lot of room left in the budget at the end of the month. I would love to buy bigger, better, brighter things, but the money just isn’t there right now. But this message reminded me that what I have is what I have and I need to appreciate it. Period.
Instead of focusing on what I don’t have, I need to really open my eyes to what I do have. While I might feel underpaid at work (like 99% of you), I love what I do. Isn’t that worth more than a higher salary? Even though I live in a tiny attic apartment with no yard instead of a gorgeous house, isn’t it enough that my apartment feels like home?
I am guilty of saying, “When I get to this point, then I’ll be content.” Or “When I finally get married, then I’ll be content.” In reality, my contentment needs to start right now. Another topic my pastor spoke about recently was stupidly obvious, yes profoundly moving. The grass isn’t greener on the other side of the fence. The grass is greener where you water. Think about that for a minute…
Are your complaints and negative thoughts and angry words doing anything to water the grass on your side of the fence? I’m just as guilty as anyone else on this one. I think I needed the slap in the face the most.
So, after seeing the delight on that little boys face this past weekend and remembering that what I have already is more than enough, I want to find joy in the simple things. I want to feel like a kid on a train for the first time, marveling at how wide the aisles are and how fast the train is going. I want to find joy in simple, pure, brilliant joy.
Proverbs 28:19 says, “He who works his land will have abundant food, but the one chases fantasies will have his fill of poverty.” At the end of the day, we have to work hard to get to where we want to be. That journey may take months, years, decades longer than we want it to. But we have to put in the effort. And we can’t forget that along the way, there are abundant ways in which we can find joy in the life we lead.
Be a child thrilled to take his first train ride. Watch your favorite movie and laugh till tears roll down your face. Wildly jump on a trampoline without inhibition. Stick your tongue out and catch a snowflake. Do anything to find joy in the feeling of joy.