You Are Here
Augustine had this idea that I find fascinating: he believed, as I humbly understand it, that the past and the future did not truly exist, only the present does. In other words, this moment is all we have.
This is a thought that I hear a lot. I am encouraged on a daily basis (at least) to seize the day, reminded that I have one life to live, or encouraged to engage fully in the current moment. Sometimes this works fine. In fact, I've had a lot of moments lately that were lovely and that I wanted to fully embrace.
But it's not always like that.
I struggle with the present sometimes, especially when it's hard and there isn't a change on the horizon. But even hard things can be exciting. Most of all, I think, I struggle with monotony.
Compared with my perception of the lives of others, my life sometimes seems uninteresting. I've talked to many of my friends about this. Sometimes, in the midst of our lives, we've looked around and wondered: is this how it's always going to be?
Right now I'm single and I live in hope that God's plan for my life means singleness won't be forever. I have friends hoping for children, parenting very young children and wishing for sleep and clothes that stay clean all day, friends also longing for a spouse, craving a challenging job or facing difficulty in business or career.
All of those people have things about their lives that it's easy to look at from the outside and desire a la carte. It's easy to think: well, but they have kids. Well, but they have a husband. Well, but they have a cool job. The thing about the present is that it doesn't come a la carte, and it doesn't come in a perfect package. Each of the people that I know have things in their lives that bring joy and things that bring pain and difficulty.
I have things in my life that bring me such joy, and things that are hard.
I think it will always be this way. On earth, at least.
When I've thought about living in the moment, I've usually just thought about myself. I've prayed about being content where I am, or prayed out of thankfulness. Lately, though, I've been challenged not only to think about where I am right now, but also where others are. I am one place, but maybe they are somewhere different, and just maybe, where I am is a perfect place to be particularly useful or encouraging to where they are.
It's easy to have tunnel vision when thinking about the past, or the future. In the present, there is less to look at, I think, no broad sweeps of history, no great and grand plans for what might be, maybe God designed it that way so that we have time to look around.
What might happen if we asked God how where we are might minister to where someone else is, rather than just hoping for change in our own lives. Maybe someone else will be the instrument of that change we seek. Maybe we will be the instrument of change for them.
I think this might be part of what is meant by the body of Christ. It isn't only that we have different talents and jobs to do, though that is part of it. I think that it is true that we are actually at different places, with different functions that come with that placement. Who knows when we might have the opportunity to bless someone, even if that blessing might not seem big or important to us.
The present doesn't seem quite as mundane anymore, does it?