This picture is one I took when Danielle and I were touring the Forum in Rome. I pondered the fact that I was walking among the ruins of a civilization that existed over 2000 years ago. This picture captured for me the way the distant past can stay for years, and the way the immediate present is often fleeting.
One of my biggest struggles is living in the present, or Staying in the Moment as I write about in my book, Adopting the Father’s Heart. I am much better at it today than I was in the past, but I still struggle.
Why live in the present one may ask? Jesus referred to it as abiding. He said, “Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me.”
When we live in the present or stay in the moment, we are more fruitful and productive. We enjoy life and relationships. We are at peace.
God uses different ways to teach me how to live in the present.
He uses my mistakes to teach me. I lived for years with regrets of my past or fear of my future. The result was that I hardly ever lived in the present. All that accomplished was a lot of mistakes which only pushed me to live more like this. However, He grabbed my attention because of my failures. He used counselors to guide me. He used my broken state to speak truth to my heart.
He uses life experiences to teach me. One experience was when Danielle and I decided to quit our jobs and move to Thailand. We decided to serve as volunteer missionaries for at least 6 months. I had no idea what I would do after we returned to the states. But God taught me how to live each day while we lived in Thailand trusting that He had my future under control. And, He proved faithful.
Another life experience that has taught me how to live in the present is fostering. When our son was our foster child, for months I did not know if any given day would be his last with us. Once again, God proved to me that He was worthy of trusting and abiding in.
So, what are 7 warning signs that you are not living in the present?
- Anxiety – For years I struggled with anxiety. Some call it worry. Philippians 4:6
- Regret – Regret focuses on the past. Intellectually we know that we cannot change the past, but many live there.
- Fear – Similar to the first two, but this one focuses on the future. Anytime we focus on our past, future or both, we are not living in the present. 1 John 4:18
- Difficulty Listening – When our mind is not in the present, it is almost impossible to listen to someone speaking to us. If others ask if you are listening, that is a warning sign that you are not living in the present.
- Avoidance – These next three involve the desire to avoid pain. If you are avoiding certain conversations, tasks, people, etc. you are not willing to face your present reality.
- Obsession – Avoidance easily turns into obsession. People become obsessed with anything. A big one today is our digital devices. How many times did you check social media or email today?
- Addiction – Addiction is one step further away from living in the present. It is probably the most destructive. Warning signs include losing track of time or money, lying about your actions or whereabouts, and ignoring responsibilities.
Question for you – What are some other warning signs that you notice?