One of the biggest temptations facing Christians today is that we are trying to live our heaven on earth. There are so many ways we are trying to ease the challenges placed before us, quench our thirst and/or fill the void that we feel inside; and yet, truly, there is only one way to live life here on earth with purpose: Embrace the life we are given and use it well, with our aim towards heaven.

Each of has been given a unique calling in life to live out within our vocations. There are seasons of beauty, laughter and joy and seasons of suffering, sorrow and sadness. I think many of us try to keep ourselves on the mountain top, in the season of ease, because it is just easier. It’s less strife, less pain; and yet every challenge placed before us is there for a reason. We cannot see the reason in the moment, but when we walk through it, we look back and are amazed at the virtue that was hewn in that hard season. For some, the seasons are longer than others; but make no mistake: We need hard seasons. They are a gift, an opportunity for us to rely more humbly on the Lord. We dig into our roots as his children and call out for help, and he smiles, opens up his arms and says, “Come.”

We have a saying in our marriage, “In the Kingdom.” We use it often in an ironic way. Date night just the two of us? In the Kingdom. Kitchen sink that stays clean? In the Kingdom. A night we get to sleep through? In the Kingdom. We joke, but there is so much truth to this.

We need to be heaven-focused.

We need to realize that we do not live for life in this world, but rather for life in the Kingdom. When will my mother’s heart not worry? In the Kingdom. When will the pain stop? In the Kingdom. When will this pace slow down? In the Kingdom.

Genesis 28:15 says, “I am with you and will watch over you wherever you go, and I will bring you back to this land. I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.”

Our God is a gracious God, and those moments of laughter, joy, beauty are Kingdom moments. They are glimpses of what is to come … in the Kingdom. We should stop and celebrate, lift our eyes to heaven, and say, “Thank you.”

It’s so easy to try to scroll away the pain; to retreat from it, to numb it. There are so many ways we do this. I realized this the other day, when, in the middle of a hardship, I spent an hour scrolling for a new shirt, and then a candle for my office, and perhaps some throw pillows. The shirt arrived. It did not bring peace. Perhaps the candle will, and yet I know the answer. We have to face the fact that this world we live in now is broken. We are broken. Our relationship with the Lord is broken, and we heal it with every step forward into his plan.

I want to use this time here on earth well, using every opportunity to become more fully who I was created to be in the Kingdom, striving to be a lighthouse that shines light in the darkness. Trying to create the perfect here on earth, avoiding the suffering, loneliness and pain that is part of life, robs us of such opportunity.

We must keep our eyes heavenward, in hope, as we traverse this valley of tears, clinging to the moments when we are gifted with a glimpse of the eternal.

This article first appeared at the National Catholic Register.

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