Every year on my birthday, my mother loves to post an old childhood photo of me on social media as she wishes me a happy birthday. Here's the one from this year.
It's always funny, and it's always good for a few snarky comments from my friends. But more than anything else as I look at those old pictures of a little kid, I'm reminded of just how much I wanted to be anything but.
When I was a boy, I was in such a hurry to grow up.
It seemed like all the best things would happen when you're older. Later bedtimes...or no bedtimes at all! Cooler activities. More adventure. More excitement. Who'd want to be a little kid with all that potential just around the corner? Not me!
Interestingly, that mentality seemed to grow right along with my body and my age. There was always a next thing that would be better if only the candles on my birthday cake would multiply.
Driving a car would be better than riding my bike. College would be better than high school. My first job would be better than college.
And there's a part of this that's healthy. And there's a part of this that's decidedly not.
That unhealthy part had become so normal that I couldn't seem to isolate it and remove it now that I was an adult. And so that joy in my first job suffered bouts of thievery as I became convinced that it would be even better once I stopped looking so young, accumulated a few years of experience, and stopped being mistaken for one of my students.
My home would be better once the rest of the projects and to-dos were actually done...and when it was no longer populated by my leftover college furniture.
I now know I'm not alone in this. That it's a trap faced by many adolescents -- and by even more adults -- but that makes it no less sinister and no less destructive.
And again, part of this is born out of a healthy certainty that there IS more to come! That the future is bright and hopeful...that the plans for us are good and not for disaster.
What I've discovered to be even more sinister and destructive, though, is when I applied all of this forward-focus and dissatisfaction to myself. That I would be better when I was older, wiser perhaps, more experienced, more capable, more spiritual,
And if that's the better version of me then I need to hurry up and get there. I need to become that better version of me...I need to make it happen.
And I need to catch up.
And over the years, I've missed so much of the present in only striving toward that "someday."
Several years ago, I was introduced to the content at Become Good Soil, created by Morgan Snyder. I've learned a great deal from this man over the years, but one of the most valuable lessons was this simple phrase...
"You're on time."
You're on time.
It's like a bucket of cold water being poured over my head.
Wait! You mean I'm not behind? I'm not late? I'm not blowing it?
"You're on time."
I need to be reminded of it often.
A couple of weeks ago, as the school year was in a sprint-finish, house projects were piling up, and life in general felt determined to test my breaking point, God showed up and reminded me, yet again, of that truth.
I was sitting on the couch in the early morning hours, grateful for the brief reprieve I'd managed to carve out before sallying forth into the chaos of the day. But the weight of my need to be more...the weight of my "I'm not yet who I'm supposed to be," was driving me crazy.
And in His kindness, God brought Morgan's words back to me and reminded me of the truth of my situation...
"You are not yet who you will become. Yet.
But you are on time. You are not behind. You are not late. You are not lacking.
Be kind to yourself and know that perfection is not what I'm asking for.
I expect effort. I ask for desire. But I do not expect perfection.
Failing isn't failure. It's learning how not to do something. And as long as you're learning then it's not failure. It's process and it's progress.
I don't expect you to be your future self now.
I don't expect you to have his discipline now.
I don't expect you to have his wisdom now.
I don't expect you to have his faith now.
But you will...
You're on time."
And so I look at that little boy with the jean jacket in the "Back to the Future"-esque time machine car at Chuckie Cheese on his birthday, and I apologize to him for wanting him to grow up so fast. For expecting him to miss out on on the gift of his present self and all the joy and learning intended for him in that time.
You're on time, kid. There's no rush.
You're on time.