Here and Not Yet All at Once
Blog - March 2023
This verse in James has been a favorite of mine since I was a teen; even though I know it has been used to harm—pointed to as a reason to accept your circumstances and not “complain” about injustice. But I do not think that is what James had in mind. To me, choosing joy has nothing to do with resigning yourself to suffering. Rather, it means listening for the sound of birds, or celebrating a holiday to its fullest, or calling a good friend just so she can make you laugh. It means taking stock of your circumstances and choosing to focus on the good stuff, rather than the bad. It’s a way of cultivating perseverance through trials.
How many times a day are we bombarded with the message that we are lacking? If we aren’t partnered, we will never be secure. If we never have a child, we will never be fulfilled. If we don’t look a certain way, we aren’t beautiful. If we don’t wear a certain brand, we aren’t fashionable. These are just a few of the messages women receive every day from ads, social media, our friends, family, and sometimes just random strangers in the street. Our culture is built on being incomplete. If we were enough, we wouldn't need to buy anything to make us whole. But it is Truth that each of us, alone, is enough.
This is not to say that we don't need anyone or that we don't have anything in our lives that needs improving. Obviously, relationships are vital and there is always room for personal betterment. But this wholeness seems to me to be like the Kingdom. Here and not yet all at once. We can declare our wholeness, all the while recognizing that we have much to learn and a ways to go. But if we live in the not yet, we miss out on what is here and now. If we are constantly focused on what we lack, we miss what we already have.
We have been through trials, and we have persevered by choosing joy. Now I declare each of us whole and complete. Always continuing to learn and improve, but focused on what we have, not what we lack. There are many things we desire for ourselves in the future; but for today, we are whole and complete, not lacking anything.
Brooke Natalie Oyana
Mennonite Women USA