These days, walking into work is bittersweet. Sometimes even getting up in the morning and seeing the bright sunshine out my bedroom window is bittersweet. I wake up, peer through the blinds, and sunlight streams in, the birds are singing, the leaves in the trees are gently swaying … beautiful. Then when I walk into work, it’s even better. I am blessed to work in a place with a lush landscape, huge trees, a trickling stream, flowers, frogs croaking, lily pads—the works. As I walk up the path and under the trees, the stones under my feet dappled with sun, I’m continually astounded by God’s handiwork.
And here’s where the bittersweet part comes in. I walk through that light and beauty knowing that I have to spend the next seven and a half hours in a relatively small cubicle with florescent lighting and computer glow to take the place of the sun—talk about restless. In that respect, even though I’m utterly thankful for the summer sunshine in the morning, it borders on painful to have that small pocket of time to enjoy the outdoors knowing that I’m about to enter the building and begin my day in the real world of deadlines, phone calls, copy writing, editing and meetings.
Sometimes during the day I’ll pause and conjure up in my mind an image of my “happy place”—sparkling blue water, hot white sand, seagulls, the smell of coconut oil … Growing up on the Gulf Coast, I feel that water is in my blood, and I constantly feel something pulling me, coaxing me back to the water’s edge. Unfortunately, since I now live four and a half hours from the coast, I usually only make it down there on holidays and occasionally one or two random weekends. During these short visits, I try to soak up as much of the “beach life” as I can.
I look at these visits as a way to escape my responsibilities of adulthood. I can wear less clothing, go barefoot as much as possible, I don’t have to fix my hair … and not once does work cross my mind. There, I receive no urgent phone calls, no copy with “RUSH” printed at the top, no spur of the moment staff meetings. I wish I could live out my life in that setting, but alas, I must work to pay my rent and bills, and unless I want to bartend at the infamous Flora Bama, or hock cheap souvenir T-shirts, I don’t see much in the way of employment for myself there. Perhaps this is another cause of my restless feeling. My work and life take place a few hundred miles from the coast, but a significant part of my heart has staked its claim amidst the water, the sea breeze and the laughing seagulls.
Then again, maybe I’m restless because God “has set eternity in the hearts of men,” (Ecclesiastes 3:11). He put a deep longing for intimacy, wildness, adventure and passion in the hearts of all His children, knowing that we would never find the fulfillment we so desire until we meet Him in heaven. There’s nothing this world can offer us that will completely satisfy, and all that we do find here to fill the holes in our hearts pales in comparison to the satisfaction and fulfillment we’ll find in His kingdom. It’s kind of funny to think that all these mixed-up longings and desires I feel bouncing around in my heart were put there by my Father. And He intends for me to find the answer to those passions and desires in Him alone.
I find myself using relationships to try to quench my thirst for intimacy. I look at the beach as the place where my heart is at home. But all these things are futile in that they, while good and natural, will not truly satisfy my deep hunger. Even in my closest relationships, there is still something indefinable missing. When I’m standing on the sand with the sun shining like diamonds on the water, staring out as far as I can see, my heart feels so full of longing that it might as well burst right out of my chest.
One day though, all these desires will be fulfilled and the longings met in a way that I cannot comprehend here on earth with my finite mind. I can only enjoy the moments of beauty—sunlight, genuine friendship, the wind in my hair, the sound of laughter—that only an infinite God could create, knowing that what’s coming ahead, just around that last corner, will be ultimately satisfying, full of passion and absolutely thirst quenching.
[Lauren Koffler is a born-and-raised Southern girl, living and working in Birmingham, Ala.]
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