How to Win the Day

Last night: chips and salsa, tacos, and sangria with my longest best friends. One declares she’s learning to wait. (A fist pounded on the table to mark the historical moment.)

She’s the decision-maker of the team, so we cocked our heads a little bit, squinted, because this whole waiting to make a decision thing will prove a new feat for her. Really, we’re all learning to wait in our own styles, on our own timelines, for boyfriends and husbands and babies and serve-the-world careers.

Each of us has been told by a mentor or a counselor that we should really learn how to practice mindfulness.

We all laughed, going in for another scoop of the salsa, instead searching for some mindfulness at the bottom of the bowl filled with crumbs and salt.

Maybe we became friends back in fourth grade because we bonded over looking for a road map to life. This day-by-day thing? It’s not really our style. We coach each other to try it out, the whole staying in the moment principle, and we always add, “But really, I have no idea how to do that myself.”

I worry (often) about the future. Some people stay stuck in the past. For me? My daydreams drift to my vision of the future with worries about how to make tomorrow look exactly the way I imagine.

Maybe you do this too? This concept of taking small steps daily has rocked my world in the last couple years because I’m always scheming ways to skip straight to GO to cash in on that $200 bucks.

We’ve spent time studying Joseph’s story in Genesis and he’s very much a guy who shows up for the small steps. At this point in his story (in Genesis 42-43), we see Joseph’s dreams fulfilled. And it looks nothing like what he imagined back then.

I want to kick and scream for Joseph, on his behalf, because he’s certainly not complaining. The dreams placed on his heart have turned out… a total mess. And yet, it’s all more beautiful than he could have imagined, with pieces of a larger story forming that were so unpredictable at the time.

So how do we win the day? Take small steps? Stay in the moment?

How-to articles are supposed to give you tidy steps, clear answers. But I’m just not sure that I have them. I want a beach-ready bod without the work to get in shape. I want every answer to every single thing that’s pending in my life right now (with exact dates and times, please). Dreams that are bigger than me have spiraled into self-centered temper tantrums when I’ve forgotten to give credit to the God who gave me the dream in the first place.

And yet, here’s what I learn most from Joseph about waiting: it’s good to cry.

Joseph’s brothers betrayed him and now he’s face-to-face with them after twenty long years. I’ve wanted to skip ahead to the chapter a few pages ahead titled “Joseph Makes Himself Known” because I cannot understand how Joseph is not bursting at the seams, jumping up and down screaming his name after all this time of waiting.

Instead, he seems to move calmly, slowly feeling out who his brothers have become after all this time. When he sees his brother who has the same mother as him, maybe the one who resembles him the most, he looks for a private place to go weep.

Joseph, a master of mindfulness in his day, allows himself to feel the emotion of the present moment.

So, there’s this: how, exactly, do we win today?

We stay obedient with where we are right now, in this very moment. Like Joseph, we take what we’re given today and we do it well.
We go all in, one chip at a time, one cry at a time. We trust that it will all add up one day to something more beautiful than we could ever dream on our own.

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