Thoughts On The Future

Lately I've been thinking alot about the Future. But not in the way you might think.

At first I was thinking about the Future in regards to everything it may or may not hold. What will happen with our jobs in the Future? Will we live in this house forever? So much has changed in this past year - what will life look like at this time next year? Will I have as much trouble getting pregnant with our next baby as I did getting pregnant with our first? How many kids will we have? Mostly just questions of the unknown.

But lately, my thoughts about the Future have been more focused on my actual thinking about the Future. Sure, it can be fun thinking about what might be, but is it really healthy? I've been convicted recently that it's not, not in the way that I have been thinking about it.

Two Exceptions

I don't think there is much good to be done in thinking about the Future, except as it may affect our present actions.

If I'm thinking about the Future only so I can plan appropriately for what I need to do today, there really isn't too much of a problem (got that tidbit from "The Screwtape Letters" by C.S. Lewis, and I agree).

If I'm thinking about and focusing on Eternity that is a very good thing, because it has immediate repercussions in the Present - I'm going to live in a more godly manner today if I'm living with Eternity in mind. (see Chapter 15 in "The Screwtape Letters" for a good discussion about this whole subject).

But in this post I'm talking about thinking on my physical Future here on earth.
If I'm thinking about the unknowns of the Future, it only brings about two reactions: worry about the Future or discontent with the Present.

Worrying About The Future

When I start thinking too much about what might happen in the Future, it's almost impossible not to worry. I get to thinking about all the "what-if's", wondering what will happen, and then wondering what I should do if it does happen.

It's so easy to forget that worry is a sin. And I mostly worry about things in the Future - I don't worry so much about what is happening right now. Worrying about Future events that may or may not happen is a huge joy-stealer in my life - how am I supposed to be joyful when so many cares and worries are loading me down?

If not thinking about the Future helps me to worry less, not only am I sinning less by not worrying so much, but it's so much better for my mental and physical health as well

(Kara wrote a good post on worry, and that's where I found the above quote.)

Dreaming About The Future

But not all thoughts of the Future are filled with doom and gloom - sometimes I like to dream about the Future. And really what is wrong with that?

I think sometimes it's okay to just dream a little, but if my mind is often consumed with daydreams about things that may or may not happen, I don't think that is healthy. It's not at all helpful for appreciating the moment - in fact, focusing on what might be in the Future takes my attention away from being thankful for all those everyday gifts that I have right now (this also ties in with the book "One Thousand Gifts" by Ann Voscamp, which for me has become partially about living fully in the Present, not with the Future constantly in mind).

And then on top of that, there is bound to be some disappointment if my actual Future doesn't live up to my expectations, or I may find myself discontented with the moment and wishing it away for the sake of things in the Future. How ungrateful that is! The Lord showers blessings on us every day, and I'll miss most of them if I'm always looking for the next thing.

Minding The Present

Right now, today, is all I have. I have no gaurantee about anything in the Future - why do I spend so much time thinking about my Future here on earth when what I do with each Present moment is what will really count for Eternity? What eternal value is there in focusing so much on the earthly Future? There isn't much.

Can focusing much of my thoughts on the Future help me live better today? Not really, unless I am only thinking about the Future so I can plan present tasks. But then I still have to be careful not to let worry sneak in, and that is so easy to do.

Can thinking about the unknowns of the Future help me serve the Lord better? No. It takes my attention away from the Lord and focuses it on temporal dreams or fears.

(Katie wrote a great post recently, "On Tomorrow", that also touched on this subject - I borrowed the quote from her.)

I don't want to focus so much on the "what if's" or "maybe someday's" of the Future. I don't want to waste the Present - this moment is all I have any control over, because once it has passed me by it becomes the Past, and I can't have it back.

I want to appreciate every gift and make the most of every moment that is given to me right now, because what I do right now is what will matter for Eternity. I think I could honor the Lord much better if I think less about the Future (or even the Past, but that is a different subject), and just practice minding the Present.

Obviously I'm still working on it, and this is a struggle I'll probably have until my Future no longer includes this physical world, but only Eternity - but then it won't be the "Future" anymore, it will just be a never-ending Present with my Savior.

And that is the most beautiful thing to look forward to.

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Lauren said...

great post. It's so easy for the future to take over our thoughts & focus, thanks for reminding me that we need to be focused on the present or our eternity in heaven...not this earthly world!

Danielle said...

very inspirational post!! I love some of these quotes and will be taking note of them! I will be praying for you, we are all in this together!! :)

Anne said...

I like this a lot - especially those quotes. I think God has been teaching me a lot about living in the present. It's such a hard thing to really practice sometimes though!

Kara @ Just1Step said...

Callie, I'm always so impressed with how deeply you think about these topics and how well you put your thoughts into words. :) All very good points...thanks for sharing. :)

Katie said...

I love this post. Thank you so much for reminding me, yet again. How quickly I forget!

Hope said...

Such encouraging words! I needed that! Thanks, Callie.

cait said...

Callie--this post is exactly what I needed today. That is so cliche to say, too...but I mean it. I woke up 1 1/2 hrs. early this morning and the future was exactly what was on my mind keeping me from sleeping. I want to grasp control when it's God's plan that matters. My prayer this morning was that God would help me to savor EACH day for what it is and quit worrying/thinking so much about the what-ifs of the future. thank you for sharing what God placed on your heart--touched mine!

Jenene said...

My sister has been writing a series of thankfulness blog posts, and she was inspired by the book One Thousand Gifts.

I also struggle with not appreciating the Present, and living too much in the Future.

There are things I want to do with my life, and my mind is constantly thinking ahead to when I can make those dreams a reality. But I don't like to think that I'm missing out on what's happening now.

Very thought-provoking post.

Jessica said...

This is such a great post and a great reminder. This is something I really struggled with, especially at the beginning of our marriage. But our fertility problems have really helped me to enjoy the here and now, and not try to worry or think about the future too much. Thanks for sharing this!

Anonymous said...

Great post! I loved it.

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