The past comes to me as a plague of guilt, shame, and regret. I am so hard on myself for past failures and mistakes, even if some of them were small.
“I should have known better!”
“Well, that was stupid.”
“I wish I had…”
Then there is the future. There is so much anxiety and worry there.
“What if my husband loses his job?”
“Will I ever be able to get a good job?”
“What’s going to happen to us?”
I was back and forth between those places for a long time. No wonder I deal with insomnia, as I am now. I am on anti-depressants to help me deal with depression, and I just felt like I was in a ping pong game of emotions between regret, guilt, anxiety, and worry.
Well, I think God was trying to take me out of the ping pong game last Sunday.
My pastor, from the pulpit, spoke, “God doesn’t live in the past or the future. Though, yes, he was there when the past was happening and will be there when the future comes, he is more interested in the NOW. You want to experience God? Find Him NOW.”
He reminded me of the verses from Matthew 6:25-26 (NIV):
“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink’ or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?”
What a verse! I look outside and see that nature doesn’t have to worry about provisions. God has shown me that he does provide, and I know how easy it is to forget those times. This verse is a good tool to remind ourselves that God WILL provide what we need, so there’s no need to worry about it.
I don’t have to worry about the past or the future. Right now is good enough for me. My daughter helped me to see that I need to practice what I preach – She worries about the past. She dwells on things that have happened and fears it will repeat again. I told her that she needed to let go of the past. It’s over. “But the past affects the future!” she protested. I can tell she’s been thinking, and it’s amazing that she thought of this at the age of seven. I told her, “It only does that if you hold onto the past.” She’s learning to forgive people who hurt her, and in doing so, she’s learning it is the act of letting go of the past. If she doesn’t forgive those people, yes, it will affect her future. She also has to learn, like me, not to worry about the future. I will admit I struggle with the same thing, and I have a longer history of people hurting me. People will disappoint. There will be ups and downs. But the one thing that stays true. God is in control.
Being in the present time with God is a constant practice. Like my daughter, I have to forgive myself and others everyday of the things that have happened. The future may be unknown and scary at times, but I have to not worry. It’s not going to get me anywhere if I do. It will come eventually and be present, but the only thing I can do is what is right now around me. I have a little girl spending the day with my daughter and she soon needs to go home. I have to exercise to take care of my body. I have a painting in my head that needs to go on a canvas, and a bracelet to make for a friend. Those are things I can do now. I have enough to do to keep me from worrying about the future or dwelling on the past, but if my mind wanders… I know what I need to remember.