On Valentine’s Day, I thought of those for whom it was just another day, or a dreaded day. For some, it brought bittersweet memories of a lost loved one or a failed romance. Or perhaps it was a reminder of a love that was cut short or never acknowledged.
Sometimes a holiday or anniversary causes us to wish we could zoom past that particular day, or week, ignoring it or jettisoning ourselves into the future. However, when we focus only on the future, we risk missing any blessings that are part of the present.
Often, we spend a lot of time wishing what’s next would hurry up and come. We look forward to a vacation, the completion of a course of study, or the end of a difficult project, life situation, or season of grief. We hope for, or pursue, a relationship, job, or set of circumstances that will help to accomplish a dream or culminate in what we imagine to be the perfect life. But think of how much time you could redeem if you lived in the present rather than wishing you could fast forward into the future.
No matter how painful or difficult your current season of life, there are things to be gleaned from the present—wisdom, lessons, healing, blessings.
So what can you learn, even when right now is difficult?
The myth of self-sufficiency
In today’s world, we’re lead to believe if we want something enough, we have the power to make it happen. I feel sorry for people who fall for this myth because it places such an unnecessary burden on them. The wisdom, strength, and abilities we have are gifts from God and anything we accomplish, or journey through, is a result of His power and strength at work in us.
The deception of self-focus
Do you know people who are all about themselves to the point of being oblivious to others? We all do, and if we’re honest, we’ll admit it’s easy to focus on our own desires, struggles, grief, hurts, insecurities, and relationships while forgetting others also deal with hardship. Look around you. Could you lighten the load of someone else by providing a listening ear or word of encouragement? Would a relationship improve if you put the other person first instead of demanding your own way?
The downfall of isolation
Difficulties breed isolation. It’s normal to withdraw when going through a hard season of life, but when you cut yourself off from others, you forget the positive aspects of interaction—the stimulation of conversation, the power of a smile, the warmth of a hug, the joy of a shared burden. When you isolate yourself, discouragement and defeat replace any chance of experiencing the joy of today.
The cumulative effect of small blessings
For the last few years, I’ve worked toward walking 10,000 steps a day. When I wake up in the morning, walk downstairs, and see 26 steps on the display screen, I think, I’ll never make it to 10,000 today! But as the day goes on, the step count increases. Sometimes, I have to remind myself to get up and walk or challenge myself to get another 1000 steps before a certain time, but most days I make the goal by intentionally putting one foot in front of the other.
It’s the same for blessings. They don’t always show up in big chunks. Blessings most often are the cumulative effect of small kindnesses, God-ordained encounters, or nature moments like a flaming sunrise, a singing bird outside your window, or a family of deer at the edge of the backyard. Big blessings come in small packages that add up to reasons to enjoy today.
In your quest to move forward, don’t be so focused on what’s next that you fail to experience the blessings and joy of the present.
“This is the day the Lord has brought about. We will be happy and rejoice in it.” Psalm 118:24 NET