When I was in college I had a lot of friends that were into the show Lost. I wasn’t into it, but I liked being around my friends. We would get together every week to watch The Office and Lost. By the time I started coming to these nights, Lost was already in season 4.
As you can imagine, I sat there like a foreign exchange student during lunchtime in the cafeteria—awkward grin on my face trying to keep up with everyone’s reactions. I had no clue what was going on. I had arrived to the “Lost movement” way too late.
For a guy who is used to being punctual, it’s hard for me to be late. I don’t like it. I don’t like showing up and not knowing what’s going on or feeling like I missed out on something.
You might say I’m insecure. Well, that’s probably because I am.
I’m 27 and not married. I’ve had tons of roommates and friends get married. I’ve done just about everything you can do in a wedding other than kiss the bride. You might not know this, but going to a wedding by yourself is not something most people usually love doing. As you get older and are still just as single, it makes you feel like you’re running late.
In college I didn’t move to the city my university was in until my senior year of college. After graduation, it took me three years to get a decent job while my other friends were getting hired and married in what seemed to be a well-organized life schedule. Stuff like that can really make you feel like you’re late. You start panicking like the rabbit in Alice in Wonderland. Stressing out trying to get to your important date… and sometimes spontaneously breaking into song.
But what makes us feel late? What concept of time are we lining our lives up against?
I’m coming to realize the reason I can feel late is that I’m looking at someone else’s timeline. Comparing my accomplishments to theirs. Basing my idea of what success is by how much my life looks like someone else’s.
This is dangerous. People have been doing it forever, though.
In John 21, Peter and Jesus had an interesting conversation.
Peter turned and saw that the disciple whom Jesus loved [John] was following them… When Peter saw him, he asked, “Lord, what about him?” Jesus answered, “If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you? You must follow me.”
Peter was comparing himself to John. He wanted to know what Jesus intended to do with John, but Jesus didn’t tell him anything about John because Jesus had a specific plan for Peter. And Peter was right where Jesus wanted him to be.
It’s easy to feel late and out of place in America. Everyone has a plan. Everyone has a better plan than yours. We can feel like we’re running late and like we’re missing out on the best parts of life.
I think if we seek God’s purpose and plan for our lives then it shouldn’t look like anyone else’s. We’re not late. We’re right on time.
If being punctual has taught me anything, it’s that being the first one at the party isn’t always the most fun. It means you have to participate in awkward conversations about how much someone’s bookshelf from IKEA cost. The smart people show up late.
Maybe it’s all right to feel a little lost in Lost.
Maybe we’re not awkwardly late.
Maybe some of us are cool enough to be fashionably late.