And it robs our joy, hurts our relationships, and hinders the life we so greatly desire. We desperately keep striving–seeking for MORE…more purpose to our life, more happiness, more meaningful relationships, more security, and more healing from all of the MESS in our lives.
We look to our friends for identity, our spouses for companionship, money for our security, we look to our children for purpose in life, recreation for happiness, and drugs or other addictions for healing from our pain. Yet, we feel EMPTY and DISILLUSIONED, so we continue our seeking and striving. We are never once aware that we have the answers right at our fingertips, because our hands stay tightly clenched, never open in surrender.
How many of us have learned how to live FULLY and in the moment? How many times do I strive for the perfect tomorrow, completely missing the beauty–the moments of today? Do you, like me, have the tendency to think along these lines? Life will be so much better when we finally get our house paid off…I will feel so much better about myself, once I finally lose these last ten pounds…I would have much more purpose in my life if I could only have a baby…If my husband would just work on his issues, we could have a better relationship…Once we get over this family crisis, I will be much happier…If we could find better friends to encourage us, we would feel more complete…I would have more stability in life, if I found a better job…Once our children are married, I will enjoy more time for myself.
Each of these things may bring a certain sense of joy and fulfillment–for a moment. But you have probably discovered, like I have, that you will then, once again, begin striving for something else. Life never offers us that “sweet spot” that we long for. We never truly enjoy life because there’s always another stage, relationship, or circumstance we begin seeking. Life is never quite “perfect” for us!
I’ve lived my life for too long with this mentality and I’m done with it! I would tell myself that I would read the book my little girl was asking for after I had my “to do” list done, but then it never happened. I would plan to sit down and enjoy a cup of tea after the laundry was folded, but too often, the day was gone without me even taking a few minutes to SIT to eat, much less the luxury of sipping a cup of tea! (Why do we, busy moms, think that sitting down to eat is a luxury we can’t afford?)
Why do I have the tendency to keep my good dishes for those rare, special occasions instead of treating the meals with my family today as a special reason to celebrate? After all, I’m not promised tomorrow with my family. Rather than saving that special outfit that my husband likes, for just the right occasion, why not wear it today? Instead of pushing off that front porch time with my husband, until the work is all done, (when is it ever?) or the late night chats with my teenagers, what keeps me from living as if TODAY was my last? (Hmm, could it be my own expectations?)
Recently, we are becoming more aware that this world is falling apart.As I write this, I am aware of several unexpected, life threatening situations that others are facing- sudden accidents resulting in the deaths of family members, unexpected aggressive cancers, miscarriages, teenagers who have
become cutters, and the list goes on and on. Friends, I believe we are, daily, being reminded that we aren’t promised tomorrow. “Yesterday’s gone and tomorrow may never come, but we have this MOMENT today!” These days, you will find me focusing on more times at the park, more talks with my teenage girls, more good books to read, more dates with my dear husband, and yes, more cups of tea even while my house is in a mess.
You have to realize just how hard this is for me to do! I’m not obsessive compulsive, but I DO have some perfectionistic tendencies. I enjoy for things to flow smoothly and in an orderly fashion. I am also a high achiever. I am one of these weird people who enjoys making a list, just so I can have the pleasure of crossing things OFF. I usually enjoy accomplishing things, but recently, I’ve been realizing that I am far behind in the things I was always “on top of” before. I’m trying to “enjoy the doing a little more and the getting it done a little less!” God seems to be graciously giving me opportunities to practice what I preach, or should I say…blog about?
This past week, I have felt very stretched as we are preparing for a 50th anniversary open house for our parents, our oldest daughter’s high school graduation, continuing our homeschooling, (Yes, probably even throughout the summer for some of us!) our traveling schedule, and our kindergartener is also wanting her own “graduation” celebration. I keep asking God to remind me to live fully within the moment. He is faithfully showing me exactly how to do it and I’m very excited about it…In fact, after absentmindedly locking my keys in the van TWICE in the last few days, and my husband needing to come to my rescue, he’s not wanting me to be TOO engrossed “in the moment” anymore. I’ve only ever done it once before in my life, previous to this time! (Yep, we are also getting another set of keys made!)
With all of the many health crises we’ve had in our family, (You can read more about our story in our book, Big Mountain, Bigger God) God has taken me on a journey where I’ve been able to see the results of NOT fully living in the moment. The fears and disappointments that we have faced have attempted to steal every bit of joy and happiness I ever had. I don’t want to live my life in this way any longer.
How well I remember checking on our children during the night to make sure they were all still breathing! After I felt two of them go limp in my arms when they were infants, I had a hard time shaking that feeling and the sheer terror that coursed through my veins. I vividly remember the Christmas of 2009. Our family celebrated a very quiet Christmas at the Children’s Hospital of Atlanta. Our sixteen year old son, Austin, was there and waiting for his second heart transplant. I wanted to make Christmas a special time for our family because God had already been showing me that I needed to savor the moments we had with him. As I did what I could to make it special, I still had in the back of my mind that NEXT year would be so much better! Our family would be able to have a wonderful Christmas in the perfect environment of our home. I kept that mental picture in my mind, but that Christmas in the hospital was the last Christmas we would have as a complete family. Austin went home to be with Jesus ten months later. I will never regret what I did to make our last Christmas together as special as I could. I only wished I would have enjoyed it more fully.
Although the last number of years haven’t been easy, by any means, I have more joy than I’ve ever had. And it is not because of my circumstances. It goes much deeper than that! I feel like I have FINALLY discovered how to fully live within each and every moment. Do I always do it right? Absolutely not! I’m still learning. However, God has shown me several key elements that always bring the joy, fulfillment, and purpose that I so greatly long for. The great news is that it can work for YOU as well! In fact, these tools are LIFE-CHANGING. Really! Anyone and everyone can use them…I’m sorry to leave you hanging, but I will be sharing them in detail in my next blog. (Sign up here for our free email newsletter, if you don’t want to miss it.)
Someone has said, “Yesterday is HISTORY, tomorrow is a MYSTERY, but today is a GIFT and that’s why we call it the PRESENT.” May God help us to see life today as the precious gift that He intended it to be, rather than just going through the motions in a survival mode. It IS possible!
~Cindy (For The Mullett Family)