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Being Present

We all know it. You only live once. #YOLO. But what does that actually mean? I find I can sometimes lose sight of how to be present in my life, mostly because I get so caught up in planning for the next YOLO moment. I don’t find it particularly hard to live in the moment when I’m bungee jumping, or paddle boarding or running my first half marathon, or doing anything else I deem fun and exciting. It’s easy to embrace the moment during the fun times.

No, the challenge for me is to embrace the moment during the mundane. It’s when I’m doing busy work, or cleaning the house, or driving in rush hour traffic—that sort of thing. And I especially struggle with it when I hate the moment my life is in. Think of things like divorce, adultery, death of a loved one, loss of a job, loss of hope and innocence. I don’t want that to be the end of my story. I simply don’t want it to end there. So, I brush through those things, desperately trying to get back to a fun YOLO moment.

Unfortunately, I’ve met many, many people just like me who don’t deal head on with the challenge they face. Instead, they gut it out and trudge through their life, in time becoming a shell of their former self. The vibrancy, the self-confidence is gone. The fun times are an emotional buoy, but once the fun is done, the sinking begins again. The willingness to feel and experience deep emotion is lost. Fear has sucked the richness of true joy from the marrow of our bones, all because we wanted to bypass dealing with our ugly moment(s). Then, late at night alone with our thoughts, those moments come back like a nightmare, haunting us and tearing at our spirit.

I’ve learned one of the best gifts I can give myself is to address the moment I’m in—even the ugly ones. As an adult, I have the ability to move forward and to choose life, to choose not to stay trapped in the same negative patterns. Dealing with my crap is never fun nor easy. I want it to be everyone else’s problem, or I want the easy solution. Yet even when I’m thrust into situations beyond my control, as an adult I still do have control over my reaction, my response, and how my heart will tackle the challenge. Will I run and hide, bitter and broken by my circumstance? Or will I choose with faith to trust in God to help me wade through so I can truly get on to something better, not just on the outside but inside my heart? Will I chose to tackle the issues from my past, or will I let my past continue to define my present and my future?

When we choose to face our inner demons, something amazing happens. God chases them away! Sometimes it happens slowly, over time; sometimes it happens swiftly and decisively, positively changing our trajectory forever. Either way, He does it for us, for me and for you. And the amazing thing is once you’ve worked through those times of deep refining, little things like doing the dishes or driving in crazy traffic just don’t seem so bad anymore. Okay – driving can still be a little tough, but you get the idea! ;-P

There is a deeper overall joy that permeates the day-to-day of life when we live it whole-heartedly. It’s the smile you tend to wear the majority of the time, and the warmth you feel again toward people. It’s the overall peace you feel even when the next dark storm cloud in your life begins to gather. It’s the beauty you still see all around you even when your circumstances are anything but. And when your circumstances are healthy, you truly appreciate them; you don’t take the little things for granted. You begin to see each day again for what it is—a gift. A gift to change, to grow, to celebrate and laugh deeply, to mourn, to hurt or cry, but ultimately to choose trust, faith, hope and growth. That, for me, is truly knowing YOLO.

For Further Thought: Considered to be one of the wisest men who ever lived, Solomon tells us, “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven: A time to birth and another for death, a time to plant and another to reap … a right time to cry and another to laugh, a right time to lament and another to cheer, a right time to make love and another to abstain … a right time to search and another to count your losses, a right time to hold on and another to let go … a right time to shut up and another to speak up …” (Ecclesiastes 3:1-8). He concludes his entire discussion on what makes life actually meaningful by saying, “All has been heard; the end of the matter is: fear God [revere and worship Him, knowing that He is] and keep His commandments, for this is the whole of man [the full, original purpose of his creation, the object of God’s providence, the root of character, the foundation of all happiness, the adjustment to all inharmonious circumstances and conditions under the sun] and the whole[duty] for everyone,” (Ecc. 12:13).

Take time this week to invite God into the season of life you find yourself in. Make a choice to truly embrace each day, choosing to trust God will faithfully see you through it. And remember: “The Lord’s unfailing love surrounds the person who trusts in Him,” (Psalm 32:10).

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