As a mother and wife, I have heard the words, “Not now” or “I’ll do it later” far too often. It drives me crazy because when I ask someone to do something, that is when I want it done, not at a future time (or more likely, never). I have a note jotted in frustration from 2012 while in the thick of raising four children. It says: ‘Not now’ is the answer to a lot of things around here! “Do your homework”. Not now. “Try on these pants I bought you.” Not now. To the husband, “Let’s just relax for a while.” Not now. Well if not now, WHEN??
I am reminded of Bartleby’s famous words “I would prefer not to” from the book Bartleby, the Scrivener by Herman Melville. Bartleby remains expressionless as he responds, “I would prefer not to” to basically everything he is asked to do at work. This is about the only thing I remember from college English and literature classes. It struck a nerve.
I can’t help but wonder what God thinks when we don’t do what He asks. I’ve heard it said He will find somebody else. I think of that when I see many of my ideas taken flight by other people. It took me 40 years, like the Israelites wandering around in the desert, to finally get around to doing some more writing. I always felt a nagging sense that is what I needed to be doing. Saying “I would prefer not to” to the master of the universe isn’t a good idea. The ramifications are a lot worse than not taking out the garbage when asked, or not trying on those pants!
When I was younger, I would get so bent out of shape trying to discern God’s will for my life. As if it were a one-time decision. I couldn’t come up with anything that felt right (except maybe writing) and many doors were slammed shut in my face. I still think I may have made the wrong decision when I was offered a newspaper writing job after high school and didn’t accept it. I have always wondered what direction my life would have taken if I had. I feel like I am living my “Plan B” because I missed that particular opportunity. But who knows, I only have the present. The past is gone and the future is not guaranteed.
Now being able to look back over the years, I think we have many purposes throughout our lives. God’s will is a continuous journey with many twists and turns along the way. Many times I think I didn’t even realize a lot of the things I was doing were actually God’s will for that time or at the very least, laying the groundwork for the future.
For instance, I worked as a preschool teacher for a time, but only looking back realized it was part of the path God had for me because I ended up raising triplets plus a fourth child. That time spent working with preschoolers prepared me for my vocation of motherhood. I was able to use the skills I had developed to run my household. Triplet babies needed a schedule, if for no other reason than my sanity. We had meals, craft time, nap time, outside time, music time, story time. I had an entire repertoire of crafts and activities at my fingertips. I was ready for the challenge!
So what is it you have been putting off? Don’t put it off for 40 years like I did. Whether it’s pursuing a career, improving your health, learning how to play an instrument, re-uniting with someone you are estranged from, whatever it is, there is no time like the present and that is why it’s fittingly called the “present”. The present is a gift, to ourselves and those around us, if we accept it and not let it sit idle. We should treasure and celebrate the present. If not NOW, when??
Book: The Present: The Gift that Makes you Happier and More Successful at Work and in Life, Today! by Spencer Johnson