Tuesday, September 29, 2009

No Time Like the Present


[what's brewing: I'm trying not to guess...]

With my recent post on looking back and last week's post on containing my expectations for the present, I suppose it seems somewhat predictable that my thoughts this week are related to the future. Funny how that happens. One of the things I enjoy most about blogging is that it allows me to see themes in my thought patterns that I would otherwise miss out on - a glimpse at the common thread that is running through the widely varied experiences of my daily life. And lately the theme seems to be about both time and contentment. Or perhaps more accurately, my struggle against time and quest for contentment.

I have a complicated relationship with the concept of time. The passage of time is something I hold dearly. My nostalgic nature thrives on it as I cling closely to my treasures. I find the feeling of sentimental wistfulness that emerges from looking at old pictures or turning the delicate pages of my grandfather's worn Bible so moving that it feels as if I could be transported back in time by the strength of those feelings. I am enchanted by the passage of time.

Yet I also hold a certain amount of disdain for time in its more powerful form as the holder of the unknown future. There is no speeding it up, bribing it to move faster or threatening it to reveal its secrets. It holds its position firmly - fists clenched and arms crossed, forcing me to wait, wait, wait for the natural passage of time that will answer my questions and calm my anxieties.

This nature of time not only contributes to my propensity for worry but robs me of the value of living in the present. Currently there are so many variables shifting around in my life that I'm having trouble focusing on the present and the tasks that are before me. The majority of my thoughts are caught up trying to imagine what things would be like if this or that came to pass, and by the end of the day I feel the impact of living in the solitary world of my own preoccupations despite the fact that I've been with people all day.

I am enticed to think about the future by the way it can temporarily ease my anxiety of the unknown. The satisfaction of imagining myself on the greener grass that could come with a change of circumstances enables me to forget momentarily that even I know it would look different on the other side.

In recent days my attention has been caught by the reality of what I miss when I am busy thinking about the future. I have realized how many opportunities for meaningful conversations naturally slip by when I am looking up instead of ahead. I find less joy in the work we are doing here when my heart isn't engaged because its busy thinking about the satisfaction that could be. Relationships go untended, meaningful moments are hurried past, and ultimately, contentment slips right through my fingers as I'm busy searching for it in other places.

I would love to say that I have no idea what Eve was thinking when she listened to the serpent's sales pitch and decided to take that fruit, but lately I've been seeing a lot of Eve in my own reflection. The desire to know more, the discontent of being limited by present circumstances, the appeal of instant gratification when bound by a restriction - I can understand these things.

And I can see the consequences of choosing to live in the future rather than the present. I know the disappointment that comes over me at the end of a day when I realize how disengaged I have been. I am sobered by the ways I foster discontentment in my own heart in my quest for contentment in future possibilities.

Therefore, I am setting my resolve to keep my eyes looking straight ahead, not up the road or into the sky where the world seems a happier, easier place to be. I have been brought into this world, to this place, at this precise moment to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.

Oh Lord, let my heart be satisfied by you alone. Let my knowledge of your faithfulness and goodness sustain me. Be the strength of my heart and my portion forever.

2 comments:

Lynn Pottenger said...

I am a regular reader of your blog. Thanks for speaking to us from your heart! I also have a blog and would like to be on your blog roll. my blog is called life with Lynn and can be found at lynnpottenger.blogspot.com. Thanks for sharing.

Becky Aguirre said...

I relate so very, very much with your post and struggling to live in the now...you could have been writing about me! Scary...and yet encouraging, too, to know that others struggle with the same issues. Like you said, it is so enticing to think about the future rather than live in the present, and yet it only makes me miss out on so much of life. Great reminder to seek contentment in all the right places...

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