July 23, 2012

"Just Wait Until..."

On a regular basis, my husband and I get told that we look like we're in love with each other. People say pretty frequently that we look at one another with "starry eyes" and that we act like we're still dating. I like hearing these things! Yet, almost without fail, there's a follow-up.

"Just wait until you have kids. All that lovey-dovey stuff will change."

Or sometimes it's
"Just wait 'til you've been married for [any number of] years. Trust me, you won't be googly-eyed then."

This cynicism isn't unique to my situation. For every person out there experiencing happiness, it seems there's someone else with a few more negative experiences under their belt, ready to quell it.

I've heard glowing mothers of newborns informed, "Just wait until she hits the terrible two's. You won't think she's so angelic then."

To a college grad excited about his first real job: "Just wait 'til you've been chained behind that desk for a year or two. You'll see how it really is."

To the aspiring author exuberant about the pure joy of writing: "Just wait until your manuscript gets rejected by the first dozen publishers."

To a young pastor who delights in shepherding his flock: "Just wait until you have your first church split."

To the young lady who loves to cook: "Just wait 'til you have to put food on the table every night for a family of five. You'll be sick of the kitchen then."

Why do we feel the need to put a damper on others' joy? Does it make us feel superior to express our bitterness to the happiest among us? Are we attempting to set ourselves up to someday say, "I told you so!" to these same folks? Does it simply comfort us about the lack of joy in our own circumstances?

I try to assume that people don't really have negative intentions when they make "just wait until" statements. I've said similar things before. I wish I hadn't. I don't know exactly why I have said those things. But I've decided to stop.

If I ever have genuinely helpful wisdom to pass along, informed by experience, I hope to frame it in a more positive way. Because a "just wait until" statement usually comes across as acrimonious. It's often condescending. And in making that statement, I am certainly not "rejoicing with those who rejoice."

Joyful seasons of life come and go and make way for different joys too quickly as it is. Let's allow others to bubble enthusiasm for wholesome and pure and lovely things for as long as they can, even if especially if our own experience leads us to believe it won't last forever.

On her tongue is the law of kindness. Proverbs 31:26

1 comment:

  1. I HAVE said things like this in that past, though jokingly & not in a mean way, but I am convicted that it may have dampened the other persons joy. So I will definitely put a better guard on my tongue. On my tongue IS the law of kindness- Amen