Stop wishing away your today and live in your joy

Haley Bodine | March 4, 2024

I’m nearly 40 years old, an “elder millennial” (though I much prefer being lumped into the Xennial label). I don’t feel older; certainly not old enough for my high-school radio favorites to now be found on the “classic rock” stations. 40 once seemed so far away, and yet…here I am with a high schooler myself. 

Four decades of living, and I can still smell the leaves on the tree that held up my childhood tire swing. I remember the taste of watermelon by the pool and the smell of Georgia summer nights, lit up by the twinkle of fireflies. Some days, I feel like I’m fresh out of high school or college; I can remember those days so vividly that it seems impossible that more than 20 years have passed.

Alanis Morissette sings, “I have no concept of time other than it is flying.” I think of that line so often these days. Time is flying by, and there is nothing that I can do to slow it down. The best that I can do is to savor it all: the sweet, the bitter, and everything in between. I, like most every human I’ve ever met, crave joy, delight, and fullness of life and living. 

What a gift to know that the one who made me loves my joy even more than I do. Like the way a child’s side-stitching laughter brings absolute delight to a parent, Jesus delights in your joy. He unashamedly says, “I came so you can really live fully alive.” 

So what holds me back? Why do I so often find myself wishing away moments, days, weeks, and entire seasons of life? 

Are you as guilty of that as I am? When work is draining and unsatisfying, when the hours are long, when we are tired, when kids are screaming, the house is a mess, when you’re waiting on a promotion, or a big move, or something “bigger and better” it is too easy to fall into the trap of wishing away our days.

The really tragic thing is that if we don’t intentionally break the habit of wishing for what’s next at the expense of today, we will never really live joy-filled lives. Eventually, the hourglass will run out, and we will be left grasping at the wind for the times we wish we could relive. We will have lived an entire beautiful lifetime, and we will have squandered it by wishing it away one day at a time.

Throughout my life, I’ve battled varying degrees of anxiety and depression. I look back on my journey towards healing with joy, not because it’s been easy; it’s been straight-up brutal sometimes. I’ve had to face my worst nightmares as though they were my reality, and I’ve had to go into the darkness with the Lord for Him to lead me out to true freedom. But I walked away with the gift of a greater desire and stronger resolve to live today.  It took me believing that my tomorrows were gone to stop wishing away my todays.

I want to taste my coffee and buy those supermarket flowers just because they’re beautiful. I want to look at my sons in their bright blue eyes and soak up each moment I have with them. I want to laugh…a lot. I want to sing obnoxiously loud and feel the bass boom in my car. I want just to sit and merely exist more often than I allow myself to. 

I want to practice the discipline of delight.

I realize that some of you are facing battles that I can’t even comprehend. You are in the thick of a war that seems impossible, and every part of you is screaming that you just want out; you just want the pain to be over. If I could, I would look you in the eyes and tell you to hold on. I would tell you that you are not alone and that one day, the pain will be but a memory.

But can I challenge you to know that fighting for joy in the middle of today is one of the greatest rebellions against pain and sorrow?

A Jewish rabbi told a story about a runner. The rabbi asked the runner what he was chasing, to which the man replied, “Happiness.” The rabbi then looked at the runner and said, “Perhaps you should stop and let happiness catch up to you.” 

Today, I encourage you to be on the hunt for joy. Notice the smallest graces and delights in your life today. Pay attention to your senses: what do you see that is beautiful? What do you hear that is lovely? What do you smell that takes you back to a wonderful time in your life? What do you feel that’s comforting? What do you taste that’s delightful?