Not What’s Next, but What’s Now?

Amanda Bast:

What if my ultimate goal has nothing to do with marriage or kids or a career? What if my aim was to love people well, and to fully embrace the gifts I’ve been given? Would that be enough? What if my life goal was to simply run the race, to be called a good and faithful servant at the end of it all? Maybe that would mean marriage and children and a thriving career, but maybe it wouldn’t. Is it ok if it doesn’t?

When you ask when I’m getting married, I don’t have an answer for you. When you hint at me having kids, it makes me jealous of new parents. When you prod about my lack of a stable career, I get frustrated. When you ask these questions, it doesn’t help me grow. It doesn’t help me feel content with where I am. It does more damage than you realize. Maybe you’re just trying to make conversation or small talk, or maybe you’re genuinely interested in my life. For that, I’m very appreciative.

I would like to suggest one thing, though: instead of asking me what’s next, ask me what’s now. Ask me what God is teaching me, ask me what I’m struggling with, or what brings me joy. I am learning, I am growing, and I am happy. I would love to tell you all about it.

I am 26 years old. I don’t have a husband. I don’t have children. I don’t have a career. I don’t have what people expect I should have, but I am abundantly blessed with absurd, exhilarating, and fantastic things I would have never dreamed up on my own.

So please, my dear friends, don’t ask me what’s next. Ask me what’s now.

About Scot McKnight

Scot McKnight is a recognized authority on the New Testament, early Christianity, and the historical Jesus. McKnight, author of more than forty books, is the Professor of New Testament at Northern Seminary in Lombard, IL.

  • http://www.wheretoreach.us/ T Freeman

    This is a great post. There is an accusation that grows with the repetition of questions about future marriage, future children, future jobs. Good stuff; good reminder.

  • http://www.yeshua21.com/ Yeshua21.Com

    Wonderful, Scott! As I messaged a friend, yesterday, just consider what life would be like if we treated life– this living presence, here & now –as the presence of God. Is not the Word made flesh in us — is Emmanuel not with us? Is not the tabernacle of God with men?

    “NO!” we cry — “It cannot be so simple!” And so, we continue to reject the corner stone as we continue on our prodigal pilgrimage in pursuit of illusory goals.

    Take up your cross! The kingdom of heaven is at hand; within us; among us…


    “If you spoke of [God] in hundred like ways you would not go beyond or increase the significance of that one word: “is”. And if you used none of them, you would have taken nothing from it. So be as blind in the loving contemplation of God’s being as you are in the naked awareness of your own. Let your faculties rest from their minute inquiry into the attributes of his being or yours. Leave all this behind and worship Him with your substance: all that you are, just as you are, offered to all that He is, just as He is. For your God is the glorious being of Himself and you, in the naked starkness of his being. And thus you will bind everything together, and in a wonderful way, worship God with Himself because that which you are you have from Him and it is He, Himself. Of course, you had a beginning – that moment in time when He created you from nothing – yet your being has been and shall always be in Him, from eternity to eternity, for He is eternal.” ~ Book of Privy Counsel

  • RJS4DQ

    Although it may seem counterintuitive, this post and depth of feeling goes well with my recent post We Must Believe in Age Redux.

    Amanda says “Ask me what God is teaching me, ask me what I’m struggling with, or what brings me joy. I am learning, I am growing, and I am happy. I would love to tell you all about it.”

    We should all be “now” to an extent, growing and learning. It isn’t about saving the future; it is about being the people of God today.

    Perhaps we all need to learn this.

  • http://lotharlorraine.wordpress.com/ Lothar Lorraine

    Generally, the medieval and antic dogma that a good woman has to have many kids has be replaced in Western secular circles by the belief she should first and foremost be very successful in her career.

    Many modern Christian girls strive towards this two kinds of goals simultaneously.

    I understand it must be very difficult for women such as Amanda to falling short of any of those (at the moment) so that many narrow-minded folks will inevitably view her as a loser.

    Having ADHD I am pretty nervous and anxious and not successful at all with girls, which is a shame for a man of my age in a Western country.

    Lovely greetings from Europe.

    Lothars Sohn – Lothar’s son


  • Steve

    There’s nothing wrong with being unmarried, childless, and without a career. Saint Paul was all of those things. But the Christian life is more than a path to self-discovery and high self-esteem.

    I think it is good to have a mission and a goal, it is something we all ought to pray for. “God… what is the purpose for which you made me? What is my calling?”

  • Susan_G1

    I think we ask, “What’s next,” for several reasons. One, as pointed out by RJS, is that we don’t tend to think of “now” with mindfulness. Another is that “What’s Now,” involves a degree of concern/interaction beyond superficialities, which may be uncomfortable for many, including both parties. Perhaps another is our inability to see beyond stereotypes or familiar life choices, and this is an attempt to find out if the person will soon align themselves with our own expectations. I think, “Now what?” is the same question for the above reasons. And I think this is what Bast is getting.

    I tend to ask, “What’s going on in your life,” which I think can be very invasive. It allows for a superficial answer (“not much”) or more. But it doesn’t imply expectations about the future. Having lived a very different life than was expected of me helps me to accept that people take different paths.

  • Kevin Osborne

    Forgive yourself, then forgive others. My experience.

  • http://www.godconversations.com/ Tania Harris


  • Wiless

    Christians in North America can never mind our own business, can we; we always have to pry into others, tell them what they should do. Irritating as all get out…