We lingered over our pale ales and gigantic slices of pepperoni pizza as we sat at a bar top table in the corner of the New-York style pizza place, looking out at the cars and people passing through five points in East Nashville.  I took a deep breath in and out and tried to force out the twinge of guilt that was attempting to make its way into that moment.  The guilt I felt was for sitting there for so long, for lingering in conversation, for lingering over our food.  We had a mile-long list of things we needed to be doing that weekend from yard work, projects around the house, cleaning, laundry that had piled up, grocery shopping, plus some various work-related projects we needed to spend a little time on.  As I sat on that stool in the window trying to force the guilt away as I exhaled, my husband interrupted my thoughts and said ‘You know, I am really enjoying this season we’re in together right now where it’s just the two of us, no kids, and no enormous responsibilities vying for our time and attention.  I like where we’re at.’

With that simple thought he voiced, the guilt that was welling up began to dissipate and not only did it make me want to sit at the little bar top table in the window for hours and enjoy our time together in conversation but it made me feel like what we were doing in the moment was important though it wasn’t necessarily propelling us towards or leading us to accomplish the next thing.

Why is it that I feel the constant urge to be onto the next thing in life?  It’s this insatiable itching in my bones that I feel like I should always be doing, moving, and reaching for the next thing.

Some of it I think is wrapped up in the trap of comparison, when I look around and see the lives and marriages of others.  I see them moving along, checking the next thing off the list with degrees, jobs, houses, and babies and think I need to get on that same life plan.

But I know myself well enough by now to know that when I’m constantly working, reaching, trying, and moving towards the next thing and the next thing, I find myself tired, worn down, and somewhat empty.  I’m not the best version of myself and definitely not my best self in my marriage.  Living with the ‘next thing’ mentality robs me of the joy of simple moments, like that evening across the table from one another.

These days when I have opportunities to fully step into and enjoy this season we’re in, I’m taking them.  This morning when I woke up, instead of getting right out of bed to start my day, I rolled over and laid my head on my husbands’ chest, just for a few quiet minutes, listening to the rhythmic sounds of his breathing.  Last Tuesday we had a long lazy brunch together instead of him grabbing a protein bar as he ran out the door and me taking a bowl of cereal upstairs to my desk to get right to work.  We sat at our little round kitchen table, eating omelets and crispy bacon, taking about books and articles we’ve recently read rather than schedules and plans and logistics.  What I found in those times was that I didn’t get one more thing done or checked off the list for that day, but we found connection and happiness together in the simplicity of those moments.

So I’m taking some time these days to linger a little longer, to soak in, eat up, and enjoy this season of my marriage right where we’re at.  I’m finding that there’s a sweetness to these days that I can’t imagine missing out on, that I would hate to have never known because I was too busy with the next thing.