Photos by Simone Anne, courtesy of Death to Stock.
This article was originally published on Chelsea’s blog, The Unlimited Mom.
We’re all seeking permanence of some kind. Whether it’s a career, a relationship, a personal goal or maybe even a spiritual need, we are all seeking the stability we believe can only be found only in a permanent situation. Nobody likes the uncomfortable feeling of floundering around in temporariness, harboring on the edges of something that could be but wondering all the time if something will ever come of it. We hate that in-betweenness, that uncertainty that hangs over us in situations with undeterminable outcomes.
Will this relationship ever move forward into something permanent? Will I ever get the promotion I need to have to income that will make me feel stable? Will I finally find the perfect place to call home, never wondering if there’s something better out there—and be content to stay there?
And we get weary waiting. Day after day we become increasingly desperate for that thing, whatever it is—that thing that’s going to flick the switch from temporary to permanent: that job, that person, that perfect situation, whatever it is. Once it comes, we’re certain things will change. We’ll be happier, less worrisome, more comfortable, at peace with ourselves. Life will be better. And so we live on, each day plodding along, eagerly anticipating that day when we won’t have to anticipate anymore because we’ll finally have it. Permanence. I’ll be happy when…
When what, exactly? When the stars aline and life is finally all you dreamt it would be? When you’re finally at that goal weight and it’s here to stay? When your relationship is finally going smoothly and you’re settled down comfortably in happy wedded bliss?
It’s funny how we do this to ourselves. We’ve got a whole lifetime of experiences to prove to us that that nirvana state doesn’t really exist, yet we continue to hold out for it, waiting for something permanent to take hold of us and sweep us up in the beauty of complacency once and for all.
But this life doesn’t offer permanence.
Nothing about it does.
Tomorrow morning isn’t a guaranteed event. Neither is your next birthday, or next year when you’re up for that promotion, or ten years from now when the mortgage will finally be paid off. None of that is guaranteed to you. And even if and when you do finally get there, there is no guarantee of what life will look like at that time. That permanence you’re so desperately holding out for is simply the illusion of stability; up close it is just as evanescent as the moment you’re living right now.
Here’s the point. I’m in the midst of a very uncertain time in my life right now, and I have found myself increasingly living in a state of desire for it to be over and longing for the things in store for me in the future. I’m constantly in a state that feels like something similar to the agony of adolescence: an entrapment in a painful in-between phase that nervously clings to the status quo while at the same time staring wistfully toward the future, daring to dream—no, demand—that it come blazing in like a chariot. I’m impatient for that future now. I’ve waited long enough. I’ve done enough of the in-between work. I’ve done enough temporary. I want the permanence.
But it is in this moment that a voice whispers, ever so gently, that nothing will ever be permanent. That it was never intended to be. Because this place is temporary, and everything here will one day pass away. This world is not the end of the road; in fact it’s just barely scratching the surface of the beginning. So the light of the end of the tunnel isn’t anywhere to be found in this life. It’s only found in the One who has overcome the troubles of this world. The One who has gone before and paved the path from temporary to permanent, who has our future solidified in His work on the cross.
And so, that voice whispers, carry on. Carry on in all that you do with a grateful heart, an open mind and a hopeful spirit. Carry on with your day-to-day in-betweenness, your working-up-to-something-ness. And do it cheerfully. Do it willingly, with a full heart, confident in the wisdom that this life is not your permanent situation. This world is not your dream home. It won’t feel any more so when you finally get to that elusive goal, either, because this life doesn’t offer that, and it was never intended to. This life is wonderful, beautiful, extraordinary—but, oh, so very, very temporary.
And so, my dear, I hear in a whisper, stop your desperate search for the permanent here. Steady your heart—it needn’t be so overwhelmed with longing for the things of this life. Some of it will be wonderful, and you will get to those places, and for a moment you’ll be at peace and you’ll feel the warmth of the sun on your face and you’ll think that this is it. But, darling, the sunshine will soon be overcome by clouds once again, and you’ll wonder what you did wrong, and you’ll again question why, why, why, dear God, can’t I have permanence? My love, you shall, but please believe that it is not to be found here on this earth. So embrace the sunshine and the clouds alike, bask in the beauty of whatever weather comes your way, and eagerly await the permanence of the place being prepared for you.