Borrowed Thoughts

I was reading an interview with Kerri Caviezel (wife of Jim Caviezel who played Jesus in the Passion of the Christ) and her answer to the last question struck me as profound. In a few paragraphs she manages to sum up a lesson that I am continuing to learn about what it truly means to be in the moment with God and let everything else fall away. You can read the rest of the interview here. 

Q: What is the most valuable lesson you have learned?

A: We have this plan for our life—and it doesn’t include any of the challenges. And yet every life at some point, whether at the beginning, middle or at the end there is some challenge. Suffering is universal. What God asks—He puts us on earth at that special time for a special purpose—we have to be present in that moment, not in the past and not in the future.

And we can’t know these things are going to happen. If we did, we wouldn’t have accepted any of them. But He gives us the grace we need at the time we need and asks us to live in that moment. When I have done that I’ve seen amazing things happen.

We all think we’re supposed to do these amazing things—that they are valuable and important—whatever we’re doing at that time, like “when I get married,” or  “when I have a child.” We focus too much on what we think needs to happen and we lose what we’re supposed to do at that time.

We have three children we adopted. My husband and I used to say that if we had had three or four children like we thought, we might never have chosen to adopt. And we would say to each other, “Can you imagine not having them?” We cannot understand God’s plan for us. It’s too immense.

Just some food for thought.

Patience in the Moment (Matthew 6:31-34)

One day at a time, one moment at a time is one line from the serenity prayer that has always stuck with me.

I am not particularly adept at living one day at a time. Usually I find myself running from the moment in order to have plans three weeks from now. I will run myself ragged trying to anticipate every possible outcome instead of focusing in on what is happening today, right now. I ignore the blessings of the present in favor of maintaining a false sense of control. I don’t have time to be in this moment, I have to be prepared for what might happen tomorrow!

In Matthew 6:31-34 Jesus speaks directly to the heart of every worrier:

So don’t worry, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear?’ For the idolaters eagerly seek all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be provided for you. Therefore, don’t worry about tomorrow, because tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

Lately that last line, “each day has enough trouble of its own,” has been keeping me in the present. Between a father recovering from a stroke, a mother recovering from a badly sprained ankle, our hallway getting flooded, our kitchen having asbestos under the vinyl we’ve currently got down (meaning our kitchen will be getting ripped up), and a niece to help take care of, there has not been a lot of time to look ahead. Instead, I find myself being taught patience.

I think patience is the key to living in the moment. If we’re impatient then odds are we’re rushing to the next thing, trying to figure out what tomorrow will look like, or what next week will bring. We do not want to take time to be in the moment because the future is far more alluring. Our impatience propels us forward while patience stops us in our tracks and allows us to soak up the moment.

Even when that moment is chasing a stir crazy toddler around the mall, or unpacking two years of Southern California living and integrating it into my old room, or packing up the cabinets in the kitchen so they can be moved and our floor ripped out. Fun moments, crappy moments, all of them deserve to be lived. All of them deserve to have patient consideration for all of the blessings and lessons they contain.

Would I like to know what I will be doing in three months? Sure. Heck, I would like to know what Wednesday is going to look like when the asbestos team comes to rip out our kitchen. Right now, though, I am going to enjoy pondering the scripture, drinking my coffee, and eating my scone.

Why?

Because right now this moment is all I have and there is something to learn from being in it. 

Farewell to 2013

The final day of 2013 is often times a day of reflection. My Facebook has been full of good memories and vows to make the most out of the New Year. 2014 is just around the corner and as I sit here in my living room in Oregon I find myself decidedly underwhelmed, but glad.

2013 has been a year of self-discovery. From beginning to end I have had experiences that have reminded exactly who I am.

My friend Tom has a blog and he picked a word for the year. His word was identity and strangely enough I think it is my word, too. It is really the only one that appropriately sums up the year for me. Facing down the New Year I believe I understand who I am just a bit better than I did when I was waiting eagerly for the clock to strike midnight and 2013 to arrive.

2013 was a year of friendship. I got the chance to live surrounded by people who accepted me, encouraged me, and loved me even when I didn’t necessarily love myself. Through friendship I got a glimpse about what it means to be accepted and finally figured out it is okay to accept myself, too.

2013 was a year of accomplishment. I lived out of state for the first time on my own. I paid rent, bought groceries, and worked nearly full time in two jobs. In the fall I began my own research project. I TA’ed in two classes and learned that I loved teaching and am not half bad at it. I graduated from University. I moved back home.

2013 was a year of challenges. This one is kind of a misnomer because every year has its own challenges. However, this year I faced some new ones. I felt severe loneliness (often self-inflicted) during the summer as I lived on my own for the first time. My grandmother passed away. My dad had a stroke. I had to move back home after graduation to a post-stroke father and a mother with an injured ankle. I have been challenged in many ways but have persevered and learned.

2013 was a year of freedom. I celebrated four years of no self-harm in early December. I learned what it meant to love and be loved. I realized that I did not have to fit a specific mold, graduate on time, get a certain job, or go to grad school right away. I found peace in the fact that the life society thrusts on people from the very start often isn’t attainable and that more often than not life never fits the standard mold.

Finally, 2013 was a year of finding purpose and meaning. The most valuable lesson was one I learned from Viktor Frankl in his book Man’s Search for Meaning: every situation has purpose and meaning, even the bad ones…and as long as there is meaning then despair has no place.

What will 2014 bring? I don’t know. A new adventure, perhaps. A new job, I hope. More friendships, accomplishments, challenges, freedom, purpose and meaning, I expect.

So bring on the New Year. Let’s do this.