Wednesday, April 15, 2015

This is Now

"This is now" (Laura Ingalls from Little House in the Big Woods).

I recently took one of those Facebook quizzes. You know, the quizzes that you probably shouldn't take because by doing so, you're dumping your personal data on to some server on the other side of the country, but sometimes you just can't help it because who doesn't want to know what 80's big hair band you should be in or what sitcom mom you most closely resemble?

So the question on this particular quiz was, "Where do you mostly live: in the past, in the present, or in the future?" I did not have to ponder this question at all. I live mostly in the future. I am a planner. I plan. Everything. I plan school for the day, for the week, for next year. I plan meals. I plan finances. I plan. I plan.

I am also a worrier. If there were trophies for worrying, mine would be on my mantle. And it would be a BIG trophy because I am a champion worrier. And I worry about the future a lot. In fact, a worry that has been on my mind lately is college for the kids. Where will they go? Will I have prepared them enough to get in? Will they score high enough on the SAT? How will we pay for college? With college only three years away, I grant myself some allowance in worrying about it.

But then there is the fact that I worry occasionally a lot about what in the world I am going to do with myself as an empty nester. Since that time is eight years from now, even I roll my eyes at me.

So, yes, I do live in the future. Which isn't healthy.

I've been reading a book by Kay Warren called Choose Joy. I sought this book out because I long to live a life of joy, but joy is often elusive to me. Happiness is not. I find great happiness is many things; I just don't consistently live in joy. Really by its very common definition, I am not by nature a joyful person. I am a glass half full, expect the worst kind of gal, so joy by its simple definition does not fill me consistently. That is why I was so happy to hear Kay label herself an Eeyore. It's always refreshing when a spiritual leader is honest; the honesty makes them so much more relatable.

I love her more defined idea of joy: "Joy is the settled assurance that God is in control of all the details of my life, the quiet confidence that ultimately everything is going to be all right, and the determined choice to praise God in all things."

And I love that she shows that joy is a choice. I have always just thought that because of my pessimistic nature, perhaps a joyful life will always be out of my grasp. But choices? I can make those.

There are so many things to learn from this book, but I focus today on her admonition: "To experience joy on a daily basis, learn what it means to live in the moment." Not for the moment because living for a moment is unhealthy, but live in the moment.

My eyes are so often directed to the distant horizon that I miss the moment.

Psalm 118:24 says, "This is the day that the Lord has made. We will rejoice and be glad in it."

Not that God didn't make all the days past, and not that He is not the author of all the days forward, but this verse says that this is the day. Today. Rejoice in today. Don't worry about the future. Rejoice in today.

I said I was a planner. And I am. I actually love to plan, especially when it comes to homeschool stuff. The problem is - and I hate to admit this - I am much better at the planning and enjoy the planning more than I do the implementation. The action is always the hardest.

And it's easy for me to choose joy. It's easy for me to choose to live in the moment. It's the putting that choice to action that's difficult. I know what kind of person I want to be. It's the allowing God to mold me into that person part that is hard.

Three - just three - things I want to focus on to learn to choose joy by living in the moment:

1. Be thankful. Instead of complaining about everything, be thankful.

Philippians 2:14: Do everything without grumbling or arguing.

Psalm 31:19: How abundant are the good things that you have stored up for those who fear you, that you bestow in the sight of all, on those who take refuge in you.

Psalm 100:4: Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name.

So instead of complaining about the incessant winds that sweep across this state, I can be thankful the sun is shining.

Instead of complaining that I have to be TaxiMom tonight and drop three off at three different places at three different times and then pick them up the same way with no time to go home in between, I can be thankful that I don't have to cook dinner tonight, that my kids get some time with friends, and that I get to have a night out with my baby girl.

2. Bring joy to others. Even if it's inconvenient for me. Especially if it's inconvenient for me.

Romans 15:2: Each of us should please our neighbors for their good, to build them up.

3. Say yes more often. I'm usually "too busy" to say yes to the kids. I need to not as my oldest would say.

Ephesians 5:15-16: Be very careful, then how you live - not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity...

I've been farsighted for so long, it's difficult to think of becoming more nearsighted, but I don't want to be someone who regrets the past in the future because I didn't live well enough in the present.


Cheryl said...

I think I am much like you, sis-in-law. This is a good reminder to live more joyfully in the present! Thanks.

tsinclair said...

Something we are all guilty of. My little (not really of course) Matthew is a constant reminder to me of this.
He always wants time from me and I find myself often too busy for him. Too busy planning or doing something that must be finished right then.
Thankfully God has given him the heart and ability to convey to me that I need to take a few minutes every now and then to just hang out.
Now, I just need to work on seeing the joy of the day.