“After summer is over, then things will slow down…” I said to my husband.

Two months later, September raced by, October weekends filled and then came the holidays. “So… in the dead of winter, things will finally slow down?” I thought.

Winter in the Midwest elicits a certain kind of hibernation – the prickly cold air keeps us bundled, not just in cozy sweaters, but beneath blankets on our couches. “That’s what I need,” I thought to myself, “a cold, snowy winter to really slow things down.”

But the slowness. never. came.

I recently saw a meme that forced a throaty laugh out of my mouth and made me feel completely known. It said, “Adulthood is saying ‘but after this week things will slow down a bit’ over and over again until you die.”

After I giggled a little more to myself, the meme got me thinking. How often am I living in the “after this” mentality?

The “After This” Mentality

The “after this” mentality is a bit like “the grass is greener”; we crave something that we do not currently have. But instead of being green with envy, in the “after this” mindset, it’s as if we believe there is no goodness to be had in our current circumstance until after we get out of it.

Let me give you a few examples:

  • After I get rid of this anxiety, then I’ll have peace.
  • After I get myself out of this gloomy slump, then I’ll be happy.
  • After I get this promotion, then I’ll feel successful.
  • After this day is over, then I’ll change my attitude.
  • After a cure is found for COVID-19, then I’ll feel safe.

Friends, the “after this” mindset is contagious, and I’m afraid it’s toxic, too.

We Already Have What we Need

As someone who struggles with anxiety, I know how incredibly easy it is to dwell in the “after this” mentality. When my heart rate is high, my hands are shaking, or my mind is stuck in a debilitating loop of fear-filled “what ifs,” I often fall victim to the lie that I will not be able to find peace until after I get rid of the anxiety.

In moments when I believe this lie, I lose grasp of the reality that with Christ I can have peace right in that very moment.

In John 14:27, Jesus says, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.”

One of the amazing things about the Lord is that He does not give to us as the world gives. When He sent Jesus to die for us, we were still sinners (Romans 5:8). And He continues to give freely, without requirements or restrictions, over and over again.

Before Jesus left the earth, He encouraged the disciples that it would be better for them if He left because He would give them the gift of the Holy Spirit (John 16:7). This Helper would be their counselor, comforter, advocate, and would teach them Truth even after Jesus was gone.

Through the Holy Spirit, the disciples received the power of Christ within them; and this incredible gift is within us too.

Friends, if you find yourself in the midst of a messy situation that is out of your control, and you’re tempted to believe the lie that you will not find goodness or peace until you’re out of it, let me remind you that you already have what you need through the Holy Spirit.

Practical Ways to Find Goodness in the Mess

When I’m consumed with anxiety or a situation that is out of my control, there are three practical steps that empower me to find the Lord’s goodness in the mess.

  1. Breathe – Anytime we feel overwhelmed, the best thing we can do for our bodies is take time to focus on our breathing. Not only does it ground us, but science proves that when we breathe deeply we activate a nerve in our bodies that tells our brain to produce a sense of calm. God created our bodies so masterfully that merely breathing helps us find peace.
  2. Lament – This practice of naming aloud our grief and sorrows to the Lord helps us acknowledge the depth of our pain and invites the Lord into the process with us. As we’re honest with both ourselves and with Him, we remember that Jesus is a high priest who is with us and fully able to sympathize with our pain (Hebrews 4:15).
  3. Look for the Lord’s hand at work – No matter how heavy our circumstances are, there is always goodness to be had, because the Lord is always at work. It may not be easy to see, but if we believe in confidence that He is working, then we need to be intentional about looking for His goodness in action.

Maybe we see Him through a kind cashier at the grocery store, or a sweet text message from a friend, or an epic sunset at the end of a rainy day. Whatever it is, the more we look for God’s hand at work, the more we will see Him and recognize that no matter our circumstance, there is always goodness to be found.

Setting our Hope on the Lord

Can we crave quieter days, less anxiety, or a world free of illness – absolutely. But the only way to lose the “after this” mentality and find goodness in the midst of chaos is to put our hope in our Everlasting God.

“‘For the mountains may depart, and the hills be removed, but my steadfast love shall not depart from you, and my covenant of peace shall not be removed,’ says the Lord, who has compassion on you.” Isaiah 54:10

I’m putting my foot down. I’m trading in the “after this” hope for an eternal one. And I’m confident that I will see the goodness of the Lord right now in this very moment.

Will you join me?