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Give the Gift of Your Presence

Do you ever find it difficult to be fully present? To be “in the moment” and not dwell on the past or worry about the future?

I was talking with my mentor yesterday, and he told me he spent 45 minutes with his grandkids the other day pushing them on a swing set. He said it was the first time in a long time where he was completely engaged in the moment, and he had no regrets about the past or worries about the future. He simply . . . was.

How many times have you been in a conversation, but while the other person is talking, your mind is wandering? You’re thinking about what you need to do next, where you need to go, and with whom you need to meet. It’s hard to disengage from the past or the future in order to be in the present.

Likewise, many of us face the challenge of always wanting to be somewhere we’re not. While we live in one house, we dream about another. While we’re in our current job, we wish we had a different one. While we’re married to one person . . . You get the point.

When Laura and I first got married, her mom crocheted a small fabric that said, “Grow where you’re planted.” She knew her daughter would be moving away, and she wanted her to dwell in the present and not always long for the past.

She’s a wise woman.

In the words of Mark Batterson, “Wherever you are, there you are!” (Chase the Lion, 94). But you can be physically present and mentally absent. When I zone out in conversation with my wife, she looks at me, snaps her fingers and says, “Where are you right now?” Or as the saying goes from my generation, “Earth to McFly!”

Like so much of life, being fully present in the moment is a choice. We discipline our minds and hearts to focus on the person sitting across the table. We honor them as they honor us with the gift of listening. We choose to be content in our circumstances and not long for days gone by or fantasize about days yet to come.

Memories are beautiful unless they cast a shadow over the present. As the Apostle Paul wrote, “I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances” (Philippians 4:11). And what is the secret? “I can do all things through Him who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13).

 

Don’t let your past cloud your present, and don’t let the uncertainty of tomorrow cause anxiety for today. Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever (Hebrews 13:8). Give Him your past. Let Him handle your future. And be free to live in the present.

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