The One with the Missed Opportunity

Ok I’m not gonna lie. I have had plenty of drive by crushes. Ya know, when you are sitting in traffic and catch the eye of a nearby driver who also happens to be a total fox.

If you have ever watched Friends (at least as obsessively and frequently as I have) maybe you recall when Rachel was telling Phoebe about her moment with Ross and said “And then there was a little… eye contact!!” in her excited squeal of a tone. Thats about how it feels. For instance, just a couple weeks ago I was walking to get coffee on my lunch break, when I caught the eye of Jackson Avery M.D. (swear he was that good-looking). Caught his eye, felt all the heart flutters, and did the not-at-all-subtle, jaw-dropped, gawk as he walked past.

Or what about just yesterday when he-who-shall-be-named “Gas Station Bae” caught my eye and followed me 6 blocks for some car flirtation before he finally drove away into who knows where….

Those “missed opportunities” don’t really hurt, though occasionally I might walk/drive for five minutes and think about the chances of running into them again. But there are other ones that are a little harder to swallow. I think the ones that gave me the most pause were the choices I made when I was young and naive and really thought I understood who I was and what my life would look like in ten, twenty, fifty years. I remember being 19-20 and I thought I had my whole future mapped out- career, calling, passions, and ideally the perfect family that fit well into my big aspirations. Because I thought I had this all figured out, I was quick to reject, rule out, or shut down anyone whose aspirations and goals didn’t fit neatly in the lifeplan that I had.

Its really amazing how much can shift in six months

After graduation I worked what was essentially a dream job, one that fit exactly within the things I had mapped out for my future. But instead, 6 short months after it began it ended. I was so hurt and broken by events that transpired, but more than any of that I was so confused. I thought that I had been following God in the major that I chose, in the job that I took, in the career I was pursuing. And after 6 months it suddenly felt like something I wasn’t even capable of much less wanted to do.

I poignantly remember sitting on the hood of my car on a hilltop on the city’s edge and praying “God why did you bring me all the way here for it not to be something you wanted for me?” And his gentle answer still rings in my ears years later.

I did all that, to get you here to the place where everything is stripped away and you will follow me anywhere. Not just your “calling”

Its funny because my whole life changed there in that moment, when I recognized that “calling” is who I am, not what I do. The “what I do” part of my calling are my momentary assignments. Some of those last longer than others. I was able to look back on this time as one that changed my perspective on opportunities.

Now sometimes when I look back at my naive years when I thought I knew better I chuckle at some of my “missed opportunities”. Back when I thought that grad school across the country and full-time non-profit type ministry was in the cards for me then there were certain people I didn’t want to even consider dating. There were job opportunities or educational opportunities that I walked away from because they didn’t quite fit the neat image of my lofty goals.

It would be so easy to look back at those things and people and think that I missed a great opportunity.

What if I had given that guy a shot? What if I hadn’t turned down that internship? What if I had said yes to that ministry opportunity.?

The cure for looking back with regret is looking forward with anticipation. Moments pass and seasons change. We live, we learn, we grow. And somewhere along the way we learn to look forward more often than we look back. A passage of scripture comes to mind when I think about living a life looking forward: Philippians 3:13-14 says “Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.”

The verse is clearly not about missed opportunities and is definitely not about dating, but there are some important truths in the verse that I apply towards my dating life and life in general. If you have walked in Christian circles for long enough, you have no doubt heard the usual adage that sounds a little something like:

Pursue Jesus and then when you look over and see someone running beside you thats when you marry them

Sometimes it seems a little over-simplified. And if you treat it as a rule for dating then yes, it is oversimplified. But here’s the truth. You find the people you want to do life with (marriage, friendship, business partners, etc) as you are moving forward, not as you are looking back.

Writing this post the day before Valentine’s Day may seem a little ironic to you. I know that Valentine’s Day can often be tough for people in their single seasons. In fact, any holiday can be tough if you feel that life is passing you by and you grieve the fact that you don’t have someone special to celebrate alongside. But writing it today is very intentional.

Holidays, any special days, can easily be the opportunity to wax nostalgic on missed opportunities. But this Valentine’s day I would encourage you to think not on what the past held, but what the future holds. Chase after Jesus. Pursue the calling he has placed on your life. Strain towards what he has ahead. Period. No caveat. No addendum saying to notice the guy or girl running next to you.

“I forget all of the past as I fasten my heart to the future instead”

Philippians 3:13 The Passion Translation

As you look forward with anticipation, I can’t tell you what you will find but I do know that choosing to live this way is what has allowed me to :
– Travel to 12 different countries in the last 5 years
– Lead worship and preach on three different continents
– Encounter the most amazing people
– Laugh, cry, love, and adventure alongside those amazing people

I have no clue what the future holds. I don’t know if the opportunities I have right now will be ones for this year or for the rest of my life. I don’t know if the friendships I have now are forever friendships or not. I don’t know if the guy I’m crushing on is the one for me or is just a passing fancy. One thing I do know, is that life is too short, and following Jesus is far too exciting to look back on missed opportunities.

Instead, I look forward with such anticipation for this season and those yet to come.

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