Don't Cheat Yourself Out of Now
I've been thinking a lot lately about the many things I want to do differently this year. It takes me a bit to figure out which ones I'm actually going to tackle first, which is why I'm only just thinking about them right now.
I feel like the way will be revealed when I'm truly ready to start walking. Either that or I'm afraid to move. I really hope it's the first thing.
There is also a distinct possibility that it could be something altogether different though. Let me explain...
You see, there's something delicious about imagining a better you, isn't there? There's something exhilarating in the planning of things that you want to accomplish. There's a rush that comes when you sit with your untested and untried dreams---bathed in the euphoria of pregnant anticipation.
It is in this space that we don't really have to put ourselves or our plans to the test. We don't have to invite failure or triumph, for that matter---either of which could be equally discomfiting. Living and breathing in this space can become habit-forming because even though we might gain very little, we risk even less.
And this is why so many of us choose to live in the relatively safe space of an unrealized future. We can't possibly know what the future holds, but we become content (enough) with the imagination of tomorrow that we don't really surrender to living fully into it.
Here's something that is also true... More than a few of us are also content to remain right where we are, obsessed with the imagination of a future that may fill us with dread. It reminds me of that old aphorism: "Better the devil you know than the devil you don't."
Additionally, more than a few of us also look back to an imagined past for many of the same reasons. We brighten or darken our memories of the past based on what we believe to be true about ourselves, and in so doing we control our narrative for good or ill.
What is lost in all of this is our ability to be fully present in the present. You see, it is our present that is truly real, but we often refuse to embrace it in favor of the illusory comfort of our past and future imaginations, whether they fill us with dread or desire.
This state of being can keep us from taking ownership of the things we need to change, the transformations that we need to embrace... It also keeps us from creating, risking, being vulnerable, surrendering... from falling flat on our faces... rising and rumbling... becoming our best and truest selves.
Pema Chodron wrote about this, and this line from her book When Things Fall Apart really spoke to me today:
The most heartbreaking thing of all is how we cheat ourselves of the present moment.
Jesus talked about this more than once to his followers as he exhorted them to not worry about tomorrow, but to seek the kingdom of God first and foremost. He taught them to trust that the future would take care of itself because God was already there preparing "a place for you."
Fr. Richard Rohr often notes that God longs for us to meet God in our "naked now," to discover the presence of God in the reality of our present.
Maybe you find yourself at the outset of this new year filled with longing for something more. You realize that you are letting the gift of your present moments elude you as you keep casting your gaze either backward or forward.
It's time to trust your future to the One who has guided you in the past. It's time to discover the joy and fulfillment of being fully present with God who is all around you, in you, and through you... right now.
This is the way forward to lasting transformation and the kind of change that you long for in your life, and even in the world. May it be so for you today and every day forward. And may the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you now and always. Amen.