What does it really mean to be present?
For years I’ve found myself lost in rumination, thinking of anything from the menial to heavy to the abstract: evaluating, analyzing, contemplating, dreaming, but not being present.
A part of me acknowledges that a lot of that was just me having a creative, active imagination with a respectable curiosity for the not-yet-understood. But another part of me, perhaps the spiritual side, admits at least one aspect of the distractibility has been me avoiding reality.
While the ability to think deeply is a blessing and an advantage in life—both creatively and practically—it’s an issue to think so much as to be rendered physically and/or mentally dormant, uninvolved in what’s going on in the world. This type of stagnancy leads to a lack of participation—even in our own lives—or in the lives of others who are effected by our lack of involvement/presence.
Again, what does it mean to be present? One way of breaking it down is to say being present is to be intentional. Intention requires focus, and focus requires honing in on one thing while pushing other things out. It means having boundaries with ourselves and knowing what to say ‘no’ to in any given moment, and what to say ‘yes’ to in any given moment, differentiating the two to maximize where our presence is most highly valued and utilized.
Why is it so important to be present?
This question reminds me of another question: What is our purpose in living today? Or, what goal are we trying to attain by being alive today? If we break our lives down to a day-by-day experience, rather than the Big Picture “all of life at once” perspective, then we’re really only living one day at a time. Even just one moment at a time. Furthermore, purpose is emphasized when it is engaged with our spirit, and while it is healthy to have ambitions and to daydream about our passions, doing this to the point of inaction in our present is equally unhealthy, as our spirit is then drawn into the anti-current of thought, rather than the active pursuit of our God-given passion or calling.
To expand on the focal point, if we don’t know what purpose we’re serving, or what we’re trying to accomplish, then what purpose does the present really have? What would be the point in being present if we don’t know what to do with it?
My own question leads me to my answer: It’s important to be present to remind ourselves we are purposeful, that we have purpose, and that our purpose is not ourselves.
Another problem is how sometimes, we get caught up thinking about our worries, frets, anxieties, or other thoughts that are outside of our control. We confuse the purpose to time spent disregarding peace with giving ourselves back control by either understanding the problem, or finding a practical solution to what appears to be a threat to the safety in our mind.
Ironically, unless this time is spent caring for ourselves and limiting our internal problem-solving to aspects that are still within our control, then the time we spend in this space only leads into a repeated loop of dead ends. It leads to insanity—thinking the same thing over and over again without the results ever changing.
Ultimately, we’re most commonly curtailed by the “could be”s and “want to”s, or we’re trapped in the “could have been”s and the “what should’ve”s, which all lead to not being present with “what is”.
If we want to be present in order to attain the peace of honing in on our purpose (which is outside of ourselves), then we must not use our time thinking about what we cannot control. Only then is the time remaining allocated to what is in our control. The rest we hand over to God in the submission of His care and love for our best interest.
We need to experience love for our spirits by receiving the grace and love of Jesus Christ. In loving ourselves through the acceptance of His grace, we also love others and our lives with the magnificent blessings we experience by being present with God.
Through Jesus, all things are made new (Revelations 21:5). Be present, and be blessed.
In Jesus name.