We sat outside on the patio of Bar J last night, a Tex-Mex restaurant that Justin’s parents decided to take us to. As I browsed the menu of delicious (yet dangerous) dinner options, I struggled to find something I knew would be a good decision for me. I’ve had my fair share of stomach issues over the course of my life. I’ve just always had a sensitive stomach. Anything that tastes REALLY good is probably going to leave me moaning and motionless later as I fight the waves of severe nausea. I think I have a dairy allergy, and then I remember I was diagnosed as lactose intolerant when I was 6 years old, so that sounds about right. Then I think I have a gluten intolerance, which would make sense because anytime I eat pasta or bread I feel like I’m going to die. Then I think it must be red meat because of that one time I had a medium rare steak and spent the rest of the evening (and all of the next morning) regretting not just going with the grilled chicken salad. Whatever it is, I have come to know when to raise tiny red flags in my head while choosing what to eat when I’m at a restaurant. And the California Wet Burrito did not sound like it was going to be the best idea.
As I’m eating my 24th salt-encrusted chip dipped in house salsa and sipping on my even saltier, slightly watered-down lime margarita, the waiter approaches our table and asks if we’d like another round of drinks. Before I am even halfway done with my first one, Justin’s dad is ordering us our second (actually third) drink of evening (we’d just finished up having a glass of vinho tinto at Wine Stop Bottle Shop down the street just an hour before).
So here I am, browsing a minefield of a menu with minimal options that I know will be the best decision for me, trying to decide if I should have that third drink and failing miserably at self-control with the chip tray and salsa bowl in front of me. No one else at the table was having to make the same decision I was. No one else had to worry about the things I had to worry about. But there I was, wanting the fajita burrito Justin was about to order and another patron margarita that his dad was sipping on. I was surrounded by people enjoying the things I want to enjoy. Yet I had to make the decision I knew was best for me.
Isn’t life a little like this experience at a Mexican restaurant sometimes?
We all want the giant burrito slathered with cheese and sour cream. And if you’re one of the (very) few who don’t want that, you’re probably wanting that third margarita. There are so many good things in this life. But too much of a good thing makes it not all that good anymore. Even more importantly, just because something is good for someone else doesn’t mean it will be good for you.
Why is it easier for me to remember this as I’m ordering my grilled chicken taco salad at dinner than it is when I’m making much more important decisions about my career?
I’ve been feeling this pressure (that is totally and completely coming from myself) to keep doing more, being more, achieving more. What “more” is looks different to everyone. The only thing it has in common is that it is always more than what one currently has. For the single mom waiting tables, it might be a full-time job with healthcare benefits. For the work-from-home full-time entrepreneur already making $80,000 a year, “more” looks like a six-figure passive income. For the husband and wife working from home together making $200,000 a year in passive income, it might be a seven-figure income from multiple streams of revenue.
There is always more.
I have to remind myself of this when I wake up feeling a little… incomplete. Like there is something missing. Something I haven’t done yet. Something that all of these people I see on Facebook and Instagram are doing as they live lives that look shiny and glamorous and admirable and good. Just because something is good for someone else, doesn’t mean it will be good for me.
It would be far too easy to shrug it all off as something I “don’t want” and say, “Oh yea, well, I COULD do that, but I choose not to.” I think there’s a little piece of that voice in all of us when we aren’t doing something we “don’t want.” In reality, we are at a minimum wondering about it. Could I do that? What if I had that for me? What if my life looked like that instead of what it does now? What if? Could I? Should I?
I’ve been asking that last question more than anything else lately. “Should I?” Just because you can do something, doesn’t mean you should. Just because I can order the biggest baddest burrito on the menu at Bar J with my third patron margarita doesn’t mean I should. I know that even though everyone else at the table can have those things, enjoy them, and be just fine… I know that those good things wouldn’t be good for me. That’s just how I am. It’s how God made me. And He has made it clear what the right decision is when I’m holding a menu at a Mexican restaurant.
Life isn’t always so clear, I know. I have been praying about my future and what it looks like since I graduated high school. There is never one answer, and it’s never a simple one. All to often life can feel like a minefield of decisions. Take one step in the wrong direction, and everything else will go. Where am I supposed to walk? Is it the path that one person is walking? Could I do what they’re doing? Should I?
There is one truth in this life that I keep coming back to over and over again: We all have drastically varying capacities for handling different situations in our very different seasons of life. We are all so different and meant for different people and different places. There isn’t one “best” way to make a living. I’m going to say this for myself because I know I need it: There isn’t one ultimate path to passive income that you need to be pursuing. You aren’t late to the party. You don’t need to play “catch up.” You’re doing just fine right where you are, and if right where you are is where you choose to stay, that is okay, too.
You aren’t less than because you’re not making more than.
Whether that’s a number, a person, your own goal you set in your head that you haven’t been able to reach yet… maybe, just maybe, you’re not meant to. Maybe that’s not what’s best for who you are. Who you have. Who you love. I know for me, I am constantly putting my decisions through a filter called How Might This Affect My Marriage. That filter is how I view everything in the world now that I have a spouse whom I so, so dearly love and wouldn’t trade for anything in this world. Not even 45 weddings a year and a million dollars in the bank. If the path that leads me to passive income leads to the loss of the most beautiful things I have in my life, I don’t want it.
There is a difference between fear and caution. There is a difference between laziness and a deliberate decision to say no to an opportunity that just doesn’t sit right with your spirit. Keeping those lines distinct is of utmost importance when it comes to making decisions in this life. And if you’re a Christian, you should be putting those decisions through a filter called How Is This Serving The Lord. If I’m struggling to answer that question, that might be a sign that maybe it’s not the best choice for me right now. Just because I can do something, doesn’t mean I should. Just because something is good for someone else, doesn’t mean it will be good for me. Just because it’s not now, doesn’t mean it will not ever be.
Our God is a god of mysteries, thoughts we will never be able to understand. He is also a god of clarity, peace, goodness, and simplicity. What he desires for us, we should be running after with all of our hearts. And we will know what he desires for us, what is good and best for us, when we run after him.
“Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you.”
“Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.”
A heart that truly delights in the Lord and in craves time in His presence will naturally begin to look a lot more like His. It will start to desire what the Lord desires.
Isaiah 57:20 says, “The wicked are like the tossing sea; for it cannot rest, and its waters toss up mire and dirt.” The sea doesn’t have to try to do these things, it just does because it is a part of what it is. Over and over again, it will toss up the dirt, effortlessly and without end. Where our treasure is, there our hearts are also. What you treasure most in this life is what will take the forefront of your thoughts, your decisions. The pursuit of money, fame, success, material possessions, whatever that looks like for you, where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
Now more than ever, I have to remember this. I have to fully and intentionally choose the Lord every morning when I wake up and every night when I go to sleep. If I don’t, I will be swept away by the sea of getting caught up in what everyone else has, what everyone else is doing, and all of the things I’m “missing.” Don’t let yourself get swept away.
“Two things I ask of you, Lord;
do not refuse me before I die:
Keep falsehood and lies far from me;
give me neither poverty nor riches,
but give me only my daily bread.
Otherwise, I may have too much and disown you
and say, ‘Who is the Lord?’
Or I may become poor and steal,
and so dishonor the name of my God.”