My husband and I just drove from our home in Orlando to the mountains of North Carolina and back in one weekend to drop off our three kids at summer camp. The kids were overly anxious to spend 2 weeks away from home, responsibilities, chores, each other, random work, and the list of books we gave them to read for the summer, so the number one question asked on the trip is…you guessed it…”Are we there yet?” Sadly, as our kids are often a reflection of both the good and bad in ourselves, I even caught myself secretly asking the same question by looking at the GPS estimated time of arrival more times than I can count and trying to beat the estimated arrival time.
And as annoying as the question gets from our kids, it is even more annoying when we badger ourselves with the same question. The origin of the question stems from a lack of systematic discipline in our lives to patiently wait and work hard for our goals. Instead we have a tendency to want whatever we want in the moment we want it without having to wait or work hard. Marketers know this desire and prey on it daily with advertisements that claim to give you what you want without working hard. Yet, obtaining goals quickly often causes them to fade just as quickly. We don’t need to look far to see evidence of that, just ask yourself what happened to the one hit wonders of the ‘80’s or the fad diets of the ‘90’s.
Instead of focusing on “Are we there yet”, an alternative is to look at what you can learn from the moment to add value to your life while trying to obtain a goal. I have learned three valuable lessons from the lives of my children about enjoying the ride on the way to the destination.
Get the ants out of your pants. Let’s face it; God has gifted some people with incredible energy, not the kind of energy mimicked by drinking too much caffeine, but mounds and mounds of limitless energy. We all have someone in our lives like this, they have two speeds: go, and I mean go fast, and stop; which is usually reserved only for sleep. They live off of little sleep and seem to get more things done in one day then several people can do in one week. One of the strengths, and simultaneously one of the drawbacks, of this energy is a constant desire to get things done now. It is a strength because it propels and motivates the person to continue working, but it is a drawback because some things just require more time, like driving from Orlando to North Carolina. So what do you do? Get the ants out of your pants. Use their antsy behavior as a signal to stop and allow them to run around for a while. When we get antsy about not having arrived at a goal yet, we should stop and channel that energy into a different activity for a while. That way when we return to focusing on the goal, our energy level will be renewed.
Stop and smell the roses. Just as God has gifted some people with incredible energy, He has also gifted some people with the ability to see the big picture and savor the moment they are in. These people tend to be more methodical in nature and value each step as a milestone wanting to mark the moments along the way. They see things that others often miss in the pursuit of a goal and tend to work more slowly and carefully. Their strength is in carefully plodding, but their weakness is sometimes never reaching their goal. So what do you do? Stop and smell the roses. Use their desire to enjoy the ride as a reminder that our path through life is more about the journey than the destination. Let them mark their moments, let them stop along the way because in the end they will be the ones who will remember the journey.
Save the drama for your mama. Then there is the one who seems to create something out of absolutely nothing. Yes, God has gifted even them with an ability to see just how big life can be lived and how much fun everything can be. They see every road detour is a chance to get lost or a chance to find a lost friend, every car accident means someone died or someone miraculously lived, every person who waves at them in the car as a best friend or a creep. There is no middle ground; life is either very large or very small. So what do you do? Save the drama for your mama. Life does not have to be a soap opera in which we are all players, but learning to see the humor in life can be very therapeutic. Let them have their stage, let them entertain the people in the rest area for a while, after all, you will most likely never see those people again.
So next time you have the urge to ask “Are we there yet?” remember instead to “get the ants out of your pants”, “stop and smell the roses”, and “save the drama for your mama”. Your ride will be much more enjoyable.
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