Are You Present?

Do you live in the past?  Do you live for the future?  Or, do you find peace in the present? I’ve been reflecting on this over the past three days while attending the Catalyst conference in Atlanta, Georgia.

Sometimes I live in the past.  I miss former friends.  I regret many decisions.  I am disappointed in my actions and words.  I wish I’d been nicer, acted better, or stayed silent. So, I replay these scenes, situations, and exchanges in my head, knowing I can’t change them, wishing I could.

At the same time, I also cling too much to past victories and successes.  Does anyone care that I was valedictorian…ummmm…no.  When you’re 35, titles, GPAs, and awards that were once so important, matter little if at all.

Sometimes I live in the future.  My cluttered to-do list is filled with tasks I need to/should complete.  I often say, “I’ll do that when X happens or when Y happens.”  But, I rarely take steps toward the items on my big dreams list. It never seems to be the “right” or “perfect” time.

In fact, I am always planning, organizing, and strategizing for the future.  Lots of busyness – few results.  I just can’t make the leap (stay tuned for a future blog post on why:)  See?  Future post!

Sadly, I am not sure I ever live in the present.  As I compose this post, I am asking myself…

Am I ever fully present?

Do I sit and soak in the present?  In His presence?  Or, am I always looking toward tomorrow, next week, next year, or the next ten years?

While I am thankful for the weight I have lost and the improvement in my health, it’s not enough.  I look toward 5 more, 10 more, 50 more pounds.  Each day when I exercise, I am looking toward October 16, and when that race is complete, I plan to immediately register for another one.

See?  Always, always, looking ahead.  Never, never, basking in the present. I am not truly in the moment…in the blessing…in the accomplishing…in the pain… in the joy.  I am always moving ahead.  [Insert super big sigh here!]

God brought the story of Mary and Martha in Luke 10: 38 to mind as I considered my presence issues.  Mary was present with Jesus; she sat at his feet and listened to his teaching.  Martha was too busy serving to be truly present, and Jesus tells Martha:  Mary has chosen the good portion which will not be take away from her.

I want the good portion; God wants that for me too.

By living life as Martha, I am missing it.  I am missing the moments, the blessings, the accomplishments, the pain, and the joy.  If I truly want to make much of Him each day and live as if Jesus is everything, I have to learn to live in the moment.

I have written about my technology diet and my not to-do list.  For the most part, I have been successful.  But, it’s creeping back in, and I know it.  I was scrolling through my fantasy football update (my team is awesome if you’re wondering!) and twitter while at restaurant with my family last week.  I checked my phone during care group.  I was looking at my phone as my friend talked to me yesterday.  It’s almost second nature.

I sometimes justify, asking myself, “what’s the big deal?”  Maybe it’s rude to look at your phone when someone’s addressing you, but I see lots of people doing that.  I need to talk to my family at mealtime, but I see them and talk to them all day.  Really?  Does it matter that much?

Yes.  Yes, it does because people matter.  Simple, huh?  As a lover of people, I know this and feel this.  Yet, my actions often don’t communicate it.  I can’t communicate “you matter” if I am not present – in the moment  – listening to, loving on, and learning from those around me.

And deeper still, I can’t communicate “you matter – you are everything” to my God if I am not present – in the moment – listening to, loving on, and learning from my God.

Are you present?  When you’re driving your kiddo to school or soccer?  When you’re watching her piano lesson?  When you’re with friends?  When you’re eating a meal with your family?

I am often not, so I am taking Jim Collins’ challenge from Catalyst:  One day a week, I will completely unplug – no technology. I will also be more intentional daily about being present, asking God to reveal where I fall short and help me improve.

I am present.  I will be present – for me, for others, and (most of all) for Him.

Psalm 16:11           

You make known to me the path of life

In your presence there is fullness of joy.

 

Links

Mary and Martha – Luke 10

Catalyst Conference

Do You Have a Not To-Do List?

De-busying Life Lesson One:  The Social Media/Technology Diet

The Answer to My Struggle with Weight

Jim Collins

Comments

  1. Brenda Schiesser says:

    It makes me very sad and then angry when I am talking to my husband and the next thing I know he has his phone out and it reading emails and answering them. If I say anything about it, he says he heard me and can usually repeat what I said but I always feel very unimportant to him because I can’t get even a little of his undivided attention. I share him 95 percent of the time with his job, church and family. I would truly love a little bit of his full attention. I have a real love/hate relationship with technology.

    As for the past/present/future discussion……..I tend to fall into all of them……..less often in the present, sitting at Jesus’ feet part………there is always so much on the list to do……….

    I like your unplug one day a week…….I just might give that a try. There are days when I don’t turn the computer on til evening and then only to catch up on email and facebook. Thanks for the suggestion. God Bless

  2. Something I learned years ago in a secular 12 step program was to say a simple prayer, “God, help me be present” (repeat as needed) 🙂

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