Living for Today

“Living for today” is a phrase probably everyone has heard before. I know I have! All my life I’ve heard quotes, song lyrics, advice from my parents and others; I’ve seen billboards and posts all about “living for today”. So why am I talking about it if it’s something I’ve heard so much and am so familiar with? Well, because it’s something I fail at…It’s one of those phrases that became far to cliché in my mind and never really resonated in my brain. Living for today is one of those things that didn’t seem very important or as worthwhile to focus on doing as other things did…

I’m a dreamer. Long car rides don’t bother me a bit (well, unless my brothers are kicking my seat or blowing saliva on me out the end of a straw) because I enjoy staring out the window, listening to music, and simply thinking…imagining the future…remembering the past…

Basically, I love to think; and my thoughts often turn to the future or what I’d rather be doing in the present. The future is a scary thing sometimes! There’s a lot of uncertainty about the future. We may be able to plan some things out, but there’s always something we can’t foresee; or maybe something we can foresee that isn’t pleasant. The present moment only happens once and instead of taking what comes to me for what it’s worth and finding the joy in it, I often think about what things I could be doing instead that I’d enjoy for more…(when really, if I just found the joy in what was given me, I’d find I often enjoy it just as much…keep reading.)

Not only am I a dreamer, but I’m also a detailed, overly analytic planner who “has” to have all the answers to every problem far in advance. This, along with the fact that I just like to think about the future, makes me highly susceptible to fall into worry, fear, lack or trust in the Lord, and impatience regarding my future and lack of joy; not living life to the fullest in the present.

God has really been working on this area of my life. He has been helping me see the value, purpose, and beauty in each day as it comes and not focus as much on the future or what I’d “rather be doing”. I had a day last week where my mind was COMPLETELY preoccupied with an aspect of my future that has a lot of unanswered questions. Not to mention, I received some really sad news that day that will affect my near future in some ways; so I was just bogged down with a lot of uncertainty. The truth is, no matter how much I thought about it, how long I talked about it, how many details I explored, it all came down to the fact that I have to be patient and wait on the Lord to guide me and help me. I wasn’t doing a very good job of waiting that day…I wanted answers and I wanted them NOW. I wasn’t even living for that day. I wasn’t full of joy in that day’s activities. All I was concerned about were the unanswered questions about the future.

That day, God was working in my heart to help me let go and trust Him more. The truth is, all we really have for certain is today; right now; this very moment! Nothing else is certain!

Without even realizing exactly what I was doing, I started “living for today” and more specifically, living for the moment after this day. The next day, I hardly thought about those future uncertainties. I prayed about them and was always listening for God to give me His answers, but I wasn’t worried. I had a renewed faith and trust and was able to enjoy each moment of the day…

The following day, my mom, Cameron, and I went to Wiphan. I have my favorite places, activities, and people I spend time with at Wiphan and where Mom, Cam, and I went (and the amount of time we spent there) wouldn’t normally be my favorite or preferred place to go; but I just went with it without thinking about where I could be and what I could be doing instead. And you know what?? I had a BLAST that day!! My arms were sore by the end from spending over two hours sanding woodwork and carrying the weight 200 necklaces on my arm for 20 minutes, but it was such a GOOD day! A day full of joy, happiness, contentment, and new memories!

I wasn’t the only one sanding woodwork…three other teens/young adults were helping and we had a really fun time laughing, visiting, and listening to music while we worked.

Mwape, one of the girls sanding with me, is a very dedicated young lady who walks 45 minutes one way to school every day. I was able to spend an extensive amount of time learning more about her and walking a mile or so with her running an errand for someone. On the walk, I met this kind lady who was eager to test my Bemba skills and while walking back to where we started, taking a different route through the village; I was able to greet numerous children I know from Wiphan! Just saying, “Good morning Mike! Good morning Elizabeth! Good morning Davis and Francis!” and hearing kids call me by name or even by “musungu belela”, it sent a thrill of joy through me that, again, I would’ve missed out on had I not lived in the moment helping Mwape and the others…

Carrying 200 necklaces wasn’t exactly what I imagined I’d be doing that day; but collecting the necklaces from each of the women (all widows) who made them and seeing their beautiful smiles, it was such a joy and such a sweet moment to me! I saw the uniqueness in each of their designs, styles, and colors…The necklaces are all similar, but each lady had her own way of creating them. I was able to play with one of the lady’s little baby boys and make him laugh; I was able to greet people in the homes nearby; and so many other things I would’ve missed out on had I not been there or chosen to enjoy being there.

I even had a chance back at Wiphan’s headquarters, to spend some time with the newest hospitality class (if you remember, my friends in the other class are gone until January). I greeted the ones whose names I knew and learned some new names. Some of the ones I already knew started asking me questions about “America” and it turned into them wanting to see my driver’s license and asking if I could just use it in Zambia. They assured me it would be valid (unfortunately no..)! I had such a fun time laughing and developing stronger relationships with them…

IMG_2461 - Copy

IMG_2487

Later on in the week, I had the opportunity to teach a class of first graders for an hour or so…This was definitely a job (a lot of energy was contained in that room), but in the end we had so much fun! I learned many of their names and was able to tell them the story of David and Goliath in broken Bemba (I did have to use some English though). We did math problems together and even learned a memory verse…That day I also had the chance to spend time with a couple of the teachers at the school and we laughed and laughed together!! I helped Mamma Jackie (the cook) serve food to all the kids and got to see all their sweet smiles!

DSC_0278

Again, these are all things I would’ve probably missed out on if I concerned myself with where I could’ve been or what I could’ve been doing. Instead, at the end of each of these days, I wouldn’t have changed a thing! The ONLY thing I could’ve wished differently was that I could’ve stayed at Wiphan longer (that’s always the case with me); but it worked out just as God wanted it to…

DSC_0256

So here’s what I’ve determined: when we bog ourselves down with fears about the future, regrets about the past, or different wishes for the present we take away from the joy that moment could possess if we just let everything else go and saw the beauty in right now. We learn from the past and the future takes some planning, but never let it downplay and steal your joy in the here and now. “Yesterday is history. Tomorrow is a mystery. And today is a gift…that’s why it is called the present.” Cherish the gift of the present and don’t wish for a different gift. Right now is the only moment we can be certain of…no other time is certain. Take this moment; right now, today, this stage in your life, however you want to define “moment”; and live it to the fullest! Live it to glorify your Maker!!

Advertisements