“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. (Jeremiah 29:11)
Humans are uncomfortable creatures. Don’t believe me? Watch two complete strangers have a conversation and prepare for the awkward goodness to ensue. When we don’t know what to say or ask, mankind has a nasty habit of reverting to a standard (and incredibly boring) series of questions in an attempt to get to know one another. The question “What do you do for a living?” while one of the most commonly asked questions, is one of the worst ways to get to know someone. How many of us can honestly say that one of the best ways we define ourselves is also the way we earn a paycheck?
This type of conversation includes what I like to call the “sequence questions.” And, depending on what phase of life you’re in depends on which question in the sequence you’ll be asked. When you are a high school student, the question is “Where do you want to go to college?” Once you’re in college, it becomes, “So what’s your major?” Then it becomes, “When are you graduating?” And the sequence of uncomfortableness continues from there…
“Where do you want to get a job?”
“When will you get married?”
“Oh you’re married? When will you have children?”
“Oh you have a child? When will you have your next child?”
“Where will your children go to college?”
And the sequence goes on.
This verse in Jeremiah encourages us to have a faith that doesn’t demand our identity be defined by the answers to these surface level questions because, ultimately, the next step in the sequence of our life is not in our hands, but God’s.
So instead of asking these standard questions when you are trying to get to know someone, try to ask them about their passions, their concerns, and their actual life. Maybe then instead of learning from each other what we do for a living, we learn what we do to truly live.
Prayer: God, in the chaos of the Christmas season, remind me to not focus on the next step in the sequence of life but to instead be mindful of the living moments you provide for me today. Thank you for knowing the plans you have for me, and revealing them to me in your perfect timing. Amen.