“Focus on the journey, not the destination. Joy is found not in finishing an activity but in doing it.” ~ Greg Anderson
“Are we there yet?!” When I look back on my life, those words are several of the many that I regret saying to my parents while on vacations. “Are we there yet?!” The question, I know, caused a lot of stress in my parents. We four boys, chanting that phrase over and over during two days worth of driving, must have driven them nuts. All we were concerned about was the destination. How sad.
I never really learned how terrible that was until I was older and took a journey on my own. Granted, my “journeys” are typically flights down to Florida to visit Disney World or flights to a port to go on a cruise. However, one of my earlier years as a priest, I took a road trip. The destination was fixed in my mind; but, as I drove, I saw things that fascinated me. I did something that we never did when we were children pushing our parents to the final destination. I stopped.
I learned that the destination might be desirable and important but that the space in between is filled with fascinating places as well. On that trip, I called my destination on a pay phone (yes, those were the days of no cell phones or car phones) and told them that I was going to arrive a day later. I spent the next two days stopping at whatever caught my eye: nature preserves, caves, and the like. I was absolutely fascinated at what I saw. When I finally arrived at my destination, I did not have the usual stress associated with forging ahead until arrival. Instead, I was already rested and relaxed and ready to immerse myself into my vacation.
Heaven is our ultimate destination. However, I would say that some people stress so much about getting to the final destination that they forget to enjoy the journey along the way. Our journey is filled with places to visit, see, and explore. If we get ourselves too keyed up about the final destination only, we will not take the time to enjoy the journey.
We can use Mass attendance as one quick example. Some people go to Mass simply because it is a requirement of the faith. They see it as a way point for their destination. However, they never really take the time to appreciate that wonderful expression of faith. Did you ever stop to think that going to Mass can be exciting, fun, and fulfilling? It is if you stop and take the time to experience it rather than simply check it off of a requirement list. The same holds for prayer, volunteer service, or the myriad of opportunities our faith extends to us.
Notice, I wrote “opportunities” and not “obligations”. Living our faith completely gives us opportunity after opportunity to draw closer to God. If we embrace all those many opportunities, when we reach our final destination, we will not be all stressed out. Rather, we will be ready to embrace the Lord who, through the many stops we made in our lives, would have become a good friend.
FAITH ACTION: Allow yourself to be joyful for the things that you do on your faith journey so that your joy may fuel further accomplishments.