Life is transition, whether we realize it or not. To think it is static is to buck up against a hard reality. To believe that things will never change – whether good things or bad things – belies the truth. Where are you living?
I have been guilty of living in the past.
Nothing good in my life ever happened without a struggle. Loss, dreams deferred, tragedy and want have always preceded abundance, love and answered prayers.
The good times were good. I have experienced the privilege and pleasure of laughing children, sunny days and sacred holidays. They are memories I will always have.
When present times are tough, I can easily get lost in those past times. I can wish the time went backwards so I could experience it once again. For sure, I would be more present so I could remember more details and simply enjoy the feelings all over again.
But living in the past is incompatible with enjoying the present, even if it isn’t all that pleasant. Filling my head with images of happier times builds discontent with what is.
The challenge is always to mine the gems of the present, even if they are completely hidden and momentarily elusive.
I am often caught living in the future
I am a champion fretter – a skill I learned at the knees of my mother and grandmother. Even if something wonderful comes into my life, I can find something to worry about it. It’s a skill I have honed to perfection.
And life throws us plenty to fret about:
- What will become of this troubled child?
- Will my health endure so I can enjoy a vibrant old age?
- What will happen to my finances? Will I have enough?
All of these concerns are future focused. They are things that may or may not happen. They are things over which we have little control.
You have no control over the choices of a troubled child. What you CAN do is to pray for them, speak words of encouragement to or over them, and then let it go.
You can exercise good health habits today to increase the likelihood that you will experience healthy aging. Then acknowledge the reality that not all things are contro-able.
You can put a good savings plan in place so you increase likelihood that your finances will endure. Then acknowledge the reality that the markets and the economy are out of your control.
The thing that has helped me the most in fretting about the future is this: I have mustered the strength and resources to deal with countless challenges in my life. There is no reason to believe I will not be able to rally these strengths in the future.
In other words, the God who was faithful in the past will be faithful in the future.
I am striving to live in the now
For years, I would hear preachers and teachers say, “Today is all you have.”
I would hear it, but not really hear it. Somehow, I thought that truth was for other people, but certainly wasn’t for me.
Guess what? It is true for me and it is true for you. Today – this moment – is all we have.
We can go anywhere we want in our minds, but the reality of our bodies and our physical reality is that we live in a defined time and space. Make that defined space a comfy place where you and your brain are comfortable dwelling.
There are two things to consider here:
- When we fill each day with beauty and adventures, the day becomes so attractive and appealing that we want to dwell there longer. Do you need more beauty and adventure in your life? Spend some time to think about what you would enjoy.
- When our life has purpose and joy, we relish the present. Is it time for you to explore your purpose moving forward? It can make living in each day a joy.
While I was still quite young, both my parents died. I was a 19-year-old orphan – not quite a child, yet not quite an adult. It was the early event that marked my life in a most profound way.
During those difficult months, I sought wisdom and solace in several areas. Relationships, drugs, the intellect, and eventually the Bible.
I also read classic self-help books, including those of Dale Carnegie. He said:
“If you want to avoid worry, do what Sir William Osler did: Live in ‘day-tight compartments.’ Don’t stew about the futures. Just live each day until bedtime.”
Somehow it works.
Eventually, each moment becomes a container for gratitude.
And you live a blessed life – regardless of circumstances.