I don’t tend to be a ‘stop and smell the roses’ kind of guy. I enjoy the smell of roses and I’ll take a moment to enjoy them. This endeavor will have a hard time distracting me from whatever goal I am charging towards though.
When I wake up most days, I ask myself what are things I have to get done today and what are today’s highlights. These highlights don’t have to be jumping out of a helicopter and snowboarding down a mountain. They can be spending time with friends or seeing a great movie.
The events themselves don’t matter too much, the point is I tend to place a hyper focus on the most exciting things in my future. This tendency goes past my daily life too. When I look at my week, month, or year, I focus on the highlights and give a majority of my focus and energy to those highlights.
Up to this point in my life, I’ve seen this as a good thing. It seemed to help me show up things with ample excitement, energy, and excitement. While this helped me get the most out of those events, I am less sure now my approach is the best idea.
The last ten months have taught me quite a bit. God has used the Regeneration process to teach me way more than I imagined. It’s been the definition of an eye opening experience.
One of the things I’ve learned is the value of taking life one day at a time.
As I explained before, I struggled to enjoy the present. My tendency was to enjoy the fact that today was getting me closer to tomorrow, or some other great day in the future. Full disclosure, one of those days last year was the release of Star Wars Episode 7.
This seems like a practical approach to life because it’s so common in our culture. If work is hard, just think about the next vacation and push through today. If your workout is tough today, focus on your next cheat meal and how much you’ll enjoy it.
What is a practical approach based on delayed gratification can become a real problem though. This approach can lead to missing the peace and joy God wants to give you TODAY. It’s hard to experience the joy or peace of today when my focus is glued to the excitement of tomorrow.
I find my focus to be a limited asset; there’s only so much of it I can invest. Kind of like the saying ‘stop and smell the roses’. This seems like a simple thing to a child and yet it can be super hard for adults because we have so much pulling at our attention.
I work hard at saying ‘no’ to unimportant things and that’s a good thing. One of the caveats with that initiative is I can sometimes say no to important things too. Looking back over my life, I’ve said ‘no’ to many things which just seemed unimportant.
The joy and peace today offers is one of those things.
I didn’t realize it’s importance until I started to experience it over the last ten months. God made this happen through the Regen process and it’s combination of length and difficulty. The short way of saying that is there’s no way of tackling all of Regen at once.
It’s ten to twelve months of book work, a taxing step called Inventory, and then a set of conversations called ‘Amends’. Each of those things by themselves is a mountain to climb. None of them can be measured, approached, and climbed in a matter of days.
Both Inventory and Amends overwhelmed me at certain points in those processes. While getting overwhelmed didn’t feel good, I am so glad it happened. One of the reasons I’m glad is those experiences, along with the daily grind of book work, helped me take life one day at a time.
There was no way I could even process what ten to twelve months of book work would look like. Inventory was a long journey through my past and it would’ve been the opposite of fun to try that all at once. Last but not least, Amends conversations are tough no matter the person of the amount of amends I have to make.
I don’t say any of this to create sympathy either. I am grateful for the difficulty of each thing on that list. Without the difficulty, I would have missed out on experiencing life one day at a time.
When I couldn’t tackle all of Regen in one day, it kept my focus on the current day. Over time, I started to focus on the day at hand out of reflex. Eventually, it became my normal approach to life and a new joy and peace came along with it.
The experience was something like pulling off a heavy weight which had been hanging on my shoulders. This weight was the fear that I wouldn’t make it to the joy and peace of the future. It’s one of the downsides to always looking ahead and never enjoying the present.
A powerful fear enters our minds and tells us it’s possible that we’ll miss out on the joy we’ve been looking forward to.
This fear has weighed me down for a long time. While going through Regen was tough, it helped rid me of this weight. I can’t say for sure it will always be gone.
As I get closer to the end of Regen, the weight threatens to return. I’m aware of it now though and I know the benefits of living without it. Life is so much better when I focus on today and the joy and peace it provides.
What I do not want you to takeaway is that it’s bad to look forward to good things in the future. Proverbs 13:19 says ‘a desire fulfilled is sweet to the soul’. The question is whether placing all, or most, of our focus on a desire being fulfilled in the future might rob us of enjoying fulfilled desires today?
What desire are you focusing on today? Are there desires which can be fulfilled today which can satisfy your soul; like enjoying intimacy with God? Do you ever feel afraid that your desires won’t be fulfilled?
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