Have you ever blown up a balloon, then tried to tie it, but failed because your finger got in a knot instead of the balloon?…and then the air just went whoosh – completely deflated all of your strenuous respiratory efforts in a second! Yeah, that’s how my energy was on Friday. People! I had to cancel a massage appointment because after radiation and another appointment afterward, my energy went whoosh, like a deflated balloon. Now that’s some serious energy shortage for me to miss a massage, let me tell you! With fibromyalgia, my favorite massage lady works those trigger point knots into submission like a champ, (ouch!), and I need her champion touch, but last week, I barely made it home to my lovely, comfy bed. Yep, that’s pretty much what my weekend looked like, too…
It is a difficult discipline to live in the moment and not long for the past…or the future. Henri Nouwen said in his book, Here and Now, “The past and the future keep harassing us.” Thoughts like, ‘I wish this part of my life was over,’ or ‘I hate my life now; I should never have made the choice I made about (fill in the blank);’ or ‘I regret that I did or said what I did or said; I should have done or said that differently.’ Nouwen wrote that we often live lives of regret or uneasiness because we examine the past with guilt and regret and either long for or fear the future.
This, I think, is especially true during a time of crisis, unrest, or illness, but the ‘shoulds’ and ‘oughts’ might rob the present more than anything. Nouwen puts it this way:
The real enemies of our life are the “oughts” and the “ifs.” They pull us backward into the unalterable past and forward into the unpredictable future. But real life takes place in the here and now. God is a God of the present. God is always in the moment, be that moment hard or easy, joyful or painful. When Jesus spoke about God, he always spoke about God as being where and when we are. “When you see me, you see God. When you hear me you hear God.” God is not someone who was or will be, but the One who is, and who is for me in the present moment. That’s why Jesus came to wipe away the burden of the past and the worries for the future. He wants us to discover God right where we are, here and now.
I don’t remember whether it was Nouwen or Manning who said that if you put now and here together it says nowhere. The point was, if we choose to be somewhere other than in the present, we really are nowhere…because God is in the here and now. He is I AM, God With Us, The God Who is There (Jehovah Shammah), never a God of the past, always a God of the present, now, when you need Him. Because He is There, because He is I AM, because He is With Us, tomorrow need not be fearful or even yearned for because today is where He is.
As I complete these days of radiation and wait for the resulting side effects on my body, I pray for the courage to live in the moment. It is not easy to remain focused in the present; my mind is a hard thing to master as it skitters from one thing to the next, peering into the past or searching through the fog into the future. However, ever so slowly, I am beginning to learn that ‘better is one day in His courts, in His presence, than a thousand elsewhere,’ (Psalm 84:10). Since He is the God of the present, then my goal is to remain in the here and now…with Him.
What about you?