By Mallory Monroe
As I near the final months of my time in divinity school, my mind often races with thoughts about the future. I, a worrier by nature, am often prone to such anxious thoughts. However, now they seem to be more profound.
What will I do?
How will I pay for that?
Who will be there for me?
What will my life look like?
These questions play out in my mind, usually at inopportune times, and the answers I come up with are all hypothetical. I have no idea what the future holds for me as a young, woman minister who has lived in the same small town her entire life.
If I do this, then I will do this.
If I go here, then my life will be this way.
If I get this job, I will be able to do this.
The list of situations I come up with is endless, but the unknown still haunts me because I know I have little to no control over it. I hope I am not alone in this sentiment. If I am, please stop reading and ignore everything above.
Amidst the questions and worry about my future, recent events have unfolded in my life that have caused me to take a step back, stop and realize that the future is the future and God already has that in his hands. My irrational worries serve no purpose. Therefore, I have to constantly stop, look and listen to what God is doing in my life and in the world in the present.
Admittedly, I often am annoyed when people tell me to live in the present, stop dwelling in the past or quit worrying about the future. I find these tasks virtually impossible to separate. There is no way I can live in the present without thinking about my past or considering my future. However, even in my stubbornness and cynicism, I know what people are trying to convey when they express these whimsical, present-living thoughts. Dwelling in the past or worrying about the future in ways that are debilitating certainly hinder one’s ability to live a life of wholeness.
However, as Christians who place our hope in Jesus—the one who came, resides with us, and is yet to come. We can remember our past with joy, knowing that Jesus was with us and making us new every step of the way. We can live fully in the present, realizing that we are meant to be an outpouring of Jesus’ love and mercy in a world that is lacking in these very resources. Lastly, we can look towards the future without worries because we know that the kingdom is already, and will be fulfilled completely, in a day yet to come—and, friends, what a day that will be.
Right now, I know that I must try and enjoy my life as it is in this very present moment.
One of my professors recently told me, as we ate lunch and reflected on this final divinity school semester, that I need to protect my soul. I need to quit allowing anxiety overcome my capacity for experiencing joy. I need to let trivial matters fall to the wayside. I need to take a breath and savor the beauty, love, light and endless glimpses of God’s glory that I should be attuned to everyday.
Mallory Monroe a serves as the Minister to Children at First Baptist Church of Shelby, N.C., and is a final semester student at the Gardner-Webb School of Divinity in Boiling Springs, N.C.