Editor’s Note: This article is part of the Impressed series. Be sure to follow the rest of the series HERE.
If I’m not careful, I often play the “I’ll be happy when” game. Throughout my life, there have been different criteria I’ve set for when I’m allowed to be happy. Right now my struggle is, “I’ll be happy when we move somewhere else.” Five years ago, my repeated phrases were, “I’ll be happy when I get engaged,” and “I’ll be happy when I finish my degree,” and “I’ll be happy when I get a real job.” For everyone it’s different. For some, it’s when they get married, or lose weight, or have a baby, or publish a book. We’re all chasing that evasive piece of the puzzle that we believe will finally bring happiness.
I’m not talking about the joy that comes from knowing Christ. We can have that deep, abiding joy and still struggle to be happy in our day-to-day lives. But sometimes we go through phases of discontentment, where we just want that one more thing to make our lives easier, better, more satisfying.
Sometimes we go through phases of discontentment, where we just want that one more thing to make our lives easier, better, more satisfying.
In Cold Tangerines, Shauna Niequist refers to this idea as “The Big Moment,” such as in a movie, when there’s that specific incident that changes the rest of the character’s life. She talks about how she spent so much time waiting for that big moment, when she suddenly realized that there is no such thing. She writes, “That thing I’m waiting for, that adventure, that movie-score-worthy experience unfolding gracefully. This is it. Normal, daily life ticking by on our streets and sidewalks…this pedestrian life is the most precious thing any of us will ever experience.”
Five years ago, when I was in my early twenties, waiting for my life to begin, this idea was life-changing for me. And today, it still is. Cold Tangerines is a collection of essays about finding those precious moments in our daily lives, seeking out the beauty in the mundane. It’s about how God is a God of love, who created so many things to bring us joy. I didn’t realize how unfair I was being by continuing to demand different things from God, getting frustrated when my life didn’t line up as I thought it should. As I waited for my “Big Moment,” I missed so many tiny treasures that God planted for me.
Somewhere along my journey in Christianity, my idea of suffering got skewed. I thought it was a good thing. We know that those who suffer are blessed, and that God is close to the brokenhearted (Psalm 34:18). I thought if I was too happy, I must be doing something wrong with my life because I wasn’t suffering for Christ. But suffering, and suffering for Christ, are two different things. And each time I ignored the gorgeous sunrise painted by the Master Artist, or didn’t stop to listen to the sweet song of birds in Springtime, I was essentially throwing God’s gifts to me back in His face. Each time I chose suffering over joy, I missed out on God’s blessings.
I’ve learned when I live in a way that seeks out those precious moments of life, I glorify God and bring Him joy.
Cold Tangerines reminded me to stop and appreciate those tender offerings of love from the Lord. Through Niequist’s relatable stories, I was impressed to practice a posture of thankfulness, offering praise to God for each tiny gift in my life, rather than demanding more, more, more before I would finally be happy.
After reading Cold Tangerines, I began to notice so many sweet blessings in my everyday, mundane activities, and found myself brimming with thankfulness. Even now, five years later, if I find myself in a spirit of discontent, I reread the book, in whole or just a particular essay, when I know I need certain reminders of how blessed I already am. I’ve learned when I live in a way that seeks out those precious moments of life, I glorify God and bring Him joy. I find that contentment Paul talks about in Philippians 4 and can fully live the life God has planned for me. When I wait and wait for God to move, I miss out on the ways He is already moving.
Interested in buying Cold Tangerines? Check it out HERE!
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