• Barb Lownsbury

Being Present

I sat on my back porch this morning sipping my tea, my mind muddled and full of everything and nothing all at once. I started talking with God about my thoughts, how they can be all over the place. I think about things from the past, the good and the bad. I think about current situations, mulling them over in my mind like a purchase I’m considering. I project into the future, wondering how this or that may turn out in time. Far from being as linear as described, my thoughts were all over the place – forward, backwards, current, backwards, forward and current again. I was like a child with too many toys in front of her dabbling with them all but never really grabbing a hold of any one thing.

I realized how hard it is for me to be present, to simply sit in the moment and take in the view. Even when I look at my lovely flowers my very next thought is what I need to do to take care of them versus allowing myself to simply enjoy them for a moment. I don’t like it! It’s like life is passing me by and I haven’t really noticed until an hour of it is gone, spent on nothing but random thoughts. And it’s an hour I will never get back. Ever!

I’m amazed at how precious time is, how quickly it passes, yet how easily I squander it on useless thoughts or worry. When I look back over my life and think of how many hours I’ve wasted worrying about a guy, or the “what ifs” in life, or over situations that never materialized, I’m slightly horrified! I don’t even want to know how many years it would be.

One of my personal goals this year was to simply be present in my own life. On my vision board I have written in bold print, “Engage in your life, in your world!” I look at it every day, and it reminds me to keep fighting, with God at my side, to rein in my wayward thoughts and simply enjoy each moment of every day, each smile I receive and I give, each conversation I have with my children, however trivial or small, each sunset casting its purple shadow into my arms.

It’s hard! I have to fight to put the cell phone down, to turn the TV off, to get away from the electronic screen. I have to fight to deeply listen and engage in those passing but important conversations that will never come my way again. In short, I have to fight to be intentional about my thoughts and my time.

I have to say, though, it is worth the ongoing battle! I can’t say I’m very successful at being present all the time. Just re-read the first paragraph! But I can say I’m more present than I’ve been in a long, long time. And as I slow my thoughts and still my mind, allowing myself to get spiritually re-centered, I’ve noticed there’s all these cool by-products that come from the process. I notice the beauty of an individual leaf again. I feel more emotionally in touch with those I love. I’m a better friend and a better parent. I smile a whole lot more!

So instead of wasting your time away over this holiday weekend, I would encourage you–just as I’m encouraging myself–be present! Take a hold of the moments with your family, your friends, your God and your life. Pretend you’ve never seen fireworks before. Take back out your childhood wonderment and live in the moment. You’ll find joy and peace start creeping back up to you, ready to pay you a visit.

For Further Thought: James 4:14 says, “The reality is you have no idea where your life will take you tomorrow. You are like a mist that appears one moment and then vanishes another.” 2 Corinthians 10:5 reminds us to “take every thought captive.” With that in mind, how might you live your life differently? How might you engage more actively, leading your thoughts with God instead of your thoughts leading you chaotically?

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1314 Bourdeaux Way, Dayton, Ohio 45458

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