I’m learning, with time, that we’re doing ourselves an insurmountable disservice by failing to be wholly present in our own lives.
Everyone has regrets. Everyone has pieces of their history they wish they could erase—things you’ve said that you wish you could take back, relationships you’d do differently if given the opportunity, choices you’ve made that you doubt in retrospect. And just the same, it’s so easy to live in anticipation of what’s ahead. It’s so easy to approach life as though it’s not yet begun until *blank* happens. The past can weigh on us just as the future can leave us always longing—but this is not the way we’re meant to live.
God’s purpose for my life is not discounted by how poorly I’ve served Him in the past, nor is it ‘on hold’ until I sort myself out and become a better future someone. God’s purpose for my life is real in every moment of every day; it began at my conception and it is ever-present. His plans for me touch every moment of my life, and His hopes for me are as small as a Tuesday daily mass, and are as large as a certain career path. His hand is in everything; we live at the whim of the Lord.
I’ve become convinced that some of the holiest, most peaceful people are the way they are because they understand this. They understand that anxiety over the past is a distraction—it doesn’t matter. In mercy, our pasts are washed away by Christ. So why allow ourselves to be consumed? And these people, I believe, know that worrying for the future is fruitless. In the Bible, the Lord asks why we’re worried about the big things when we don’t even have control over the small things. Could this not be more true?
We’re at our best, then, when we give each moment to Christ as we’re in it. Mother Teresa said this perfectly:
“Every day we have to say yes. To be where He wants you to be. Total surrender. If He puts you in the street—if everything is taken from you and suddenly you find yourself find the street—to accept whatever He gives and to give whatever He takes with a big smile. This is the surrender to God. To accept to be cut to pieces, and yet every piece to belong only to Him. This is the surrender. To accept the people that come, the work that you happen to do. Today maybe you have a good meal and tomorrow maybe you have nothing. There is no water in the pump? Alright. To accept, and to give whatever He takes. He takes your good name, He takes your health, yes. That’s the surrender. And you are free then.”
Recently, in moments that I’ve found myself exasperated, disappointed, unsure, etc., I’ve tried to make a point of saying aloud: “it’s Yours, Lord”—both as an offering and also to remind myself of all of this. Of the two I’ve mentioned above, I find I suffer from the latter in that I constantly worry over the future. Where am I going? What am I doing? What’s coming next? And in being so consumed by all that’s ahead, I allow the present moment to fall by the wayside and pass me by before I’ve noticed it’s gone.
There’s a Relient K album called Forget and Not Slow Down that I’ve listened to frequently for almost six years now. I’ve always loved it, in large part, for the narrative. The album is a string of songs exploring the phases of coming to terms with a broken relationship, acknowledging God throughout as the omniscient presence holding the pieces of life together when they’d otherwise be falling apart. It’s been six years, and I have yet to experience a scenario that the message of this album doesn’t apply to.
A visual I love comes from the last song on the album. It says: “I took the fire escape and made it out alive; I still burn from time to time but I’ve a healing Hand against my side.” In the context of being present in our lives, this message is important. It’s an acknowledgement of the past, but recognition of God’s presence in the present. God’s healing hand is against my side. I love that.
There’s a lot I wish I could change about the past and there’s a million things I want for my future that I’d love to skip ahead to. Wholeheartedly, though, I want to serve Christ. I know that the moments I’m able to give to Him throughout my day, each day, mean more than any remorse I have for past failures or any plans I have to serve Him in the future.
I trust that if I give each moment to Him, I’ll grow better at entrusting the future to Him and I’ll be in awe as His plan unfolds. You can’t outdo God in generosity, nor does He want you to. Give Him your life and watch Him give everything in return.