I was having lunch with a friend to told me he got caught flat-footed with a question he didn’t have an answer for. “So I thought I’d ask you the same question.”
Gee, thanks, I think.
The question: What are you looking forward to right now?
Say that again?
What are you looking forward to?
“I know, right!” he said gleefully.
I was coming off a couple of weeks of intense work, up until about 2:00 every night. I was in head-down, just-get-it-done mode. Who has time to think ahead?
I had no clue how to answer that because I wasn’t looking forward to anything.
Enough about me. How about you? What are you looking forward to?
I’ve had some time to think about that question a lot since then. Especially since Cassie, my daughter, came over the same night with her planning notebook for the Disney trip we’re all taking this Christmas, adorned with vintage Mickey on the cover.
I should probably confess here that my “anticipation” of a Disney trip for 11 people somewhere has the words “legalized theft” in it. But that’s beside the point.
The point here is that she’s living the trip now and we’re still nearly four months out. She’s already picked out the restaurants where we’re dining, gotten detailed maps of the whole Magic Domain, logged onto the advice sites as to how to avoid the long lines and all that.
In short, Cassie has her A-Game – her anticipation game – at least when it comes to Christmas this year. And she was pretty inspiring to me to find my own.
Here’s the bottom line: You can’t look forward when you spend too much time looking back. Or looking down, as in, head-down getting stuff done.
You can’t look forward when you dread or fear the future, or look at it with a lack of expectancy.
You can’t look forward if “forward” looks like the same-old, same-old and you’re bored.
So if that describes you, as it described me, here are a few places to come up for air and get back the joy of anticipation.
You get your A-game back by reconnecting with the One who holds the future in the first place. He is full of anticipation. Check this out:
“Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him” (1 Corinthians 2:9).
What if some of those things weren’t limited to the time after you die? What if just one of those things was waiting for you tomorrow? What if the only way you could discover it was to be expecting it?
You get your A-game back by thinking about the possibilities, not just the realities. In other words, by taking the time to envision, to dream. Much like Cassie is doing with her notebook for Disney, what if you started looking at the possibilities in front of you and not just the obstacles?
One of my favorite verses in the Bible has to do with travel plans:
For a great and effective door has opened to me, and there are many adversaries (1 Corinthians 16:9).
Paul had a choice – look at the open door or dwell on the adversaries. You have the same choice, and your disposition will follow where you choose your for mind to focus.
You get your A-game back by finding a way to rise above current stress and past sorrows, and reconnecting with what and who you love.
Who do you know who seems to make the time fly by when you’re with them? What do you love to do that you get so lost in it you could enjoy it for hours? Maybe it’s time to do some emotional tank-filling – especially if you’ve been running on fumes for a long time.
You get your A-game back by choosing to. It’s a choice of faith and will. Remember this – if your life is nothing more than grinding it out or dreading the next email or phone call, then most of that is your fault because you chose it. You may not be able to choose the actions or attitudes of others, but you do have control of your own. You can’t control your circumstances, but you can control your attitude toward them.
On my keyboard I can make one single adjustment and go from “SOS” to “wow.” I can do the same thing with my attitudes, and so can you.
You get your A-game back when you change your posture and physiology. Try this…
Position your body as if you were in complete dread of something (for some of you reading this, it won’t require much change). What do you do with your arms, your shoulders, your gaze, your facial expression?
Now… position your body as if you were about to receive something stupendous, amazing, crazy-awesome! And notice…
How it changes your breathing. If you do it long enough, even your brain chemistry. That little rush you feel? Yeah, that’s called adrenaline. It comes in handy.
You get your A-game back when you decide you’re worthy of a future worth anticipating. Many people lose their A-game when they decide that anticipation is the stuff of people who are more worthy, more successful, smarter, more popular or whatever.
Phhhhhht! Don’t make me get all theological on you. Don’t make me remind you that the cross of Jesus is an eternal declaration of your worth to God.
Oh, wait. I just did.
You get your A-game back when you invest in your future, not just consume in your present. How do you do that? Try saving your money and not spending it all. But save with a purpose and preferably a timeline. Also, try giving your money to the kingdom of God, your church, and worthy causes.
You get your A-game back when you start crafting a future for your profession and investing your time in training or whatever it takes to make it happen. Yes, I’m talking about vision. A profession without a vision is just a job. And that can serve you fine for the short run. But at some point what you call a job needs to lift your eyes to the horizons a bit. If your boss or business or workplace can’t do that for you, I suggest you find one that can, when you can.
You get your A-game back when you start enjoying your family today, and praying and anticipating the joys that will come tomorrow. Even if your nest if empty or your parents are gone, even if “family” is a painful word for you, there are ways to create some anticipation there.
You get your A-game back when you connect with people on the basis of your future, not just your present or past. Why are courtships so dripping with anticipation? Because they’re in such a discovery mode. But somewhere along the way we assume we’ve harvested all the new information or understanding we’re ever going to get – or at least all that matters.
But what about the future moments you will share? The experiences you will create? You may think you’re done with all that, but you don’t have to be.
You get your A-game back when you connect yourself to a community of people whose vision is toward the future. If you don’t have any anticipation of your own, you can always borrow some of theirs. And that’s why being part of a larger community is important.
You get your A-game back when you confront the thief who stole if from you in the first place. The enemy comes to steal, kill, and destroy, and one of the first things he takes is our sense of hope or anticipation. It’s time to tell the devil to go bite a wall and give back what he stole from you.
Life isn’t all about anticipating the future – it certainly involves living today. But if today is a meal you’re enjoying, anticipation is the appetizer and/or the dessert. Aren’t you ready for something different? Something sweeter?
What are you looking forward to?
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