Today is just another day. People are living their lives, going to work, enjoying (or not enjoying) their kids. They are facing (or avoiding) their problems. They are enjoying the sunshine (today in Portland!) or whatever the weather is where they live.
It’s just another day, but every normal day also carries the possibility of being a special day. Could today be the day we are our best selves? Today will our gifts make a difference for someone else? Will we have an experience of God’s presence today?
It’s a normal day, but it could be a precious day. The difference is presence.
I have struggled with being present for much of my life. In my childhood trauma, the present moment was where the pain was. I learned that I could control the pain a bit if I gave my full attention to some other moment.
I could occupy my mind with the past. Rehearsing comebacks for arguments lost. Marinating in embarrasments past. Regretting things I said or did or didn’t say or didn’t do.
When I needed more distraction, I could focus on imagined future moments. There was only one past, but the future had infinite possibilities. That meant infinite things to worry about, countless problems to solve, a million ways to avoid awkwardness, embarrassment, conflict, and pain.
With a mental to-do list fully stocked, my mind could blithely avoid the pain of the present moment. It’s a habit I developed in childhood. Over time and with practice, I became an expert, and then it became habitual, my mind as flighty as a wild bird.
Do you know this way of living? Maybe you’ve struggled with it yourself.
What are we missing out on?
As a child, this coping mechanism allowed me to live through great pain. It lay the groundwork for developing organizational and planning skills. As an adult, this mental habit had painful consequences.
When you can’t be present in the moment, you can’t connect deeply with others. You can’t experience and understand your own emotions. You can’t tap into the deep wisdom God gives through your intuition.
When you can’t be present in the moment, you can’t experience happiness, not really. Happiness is the emotional response of contentment. It is your heart crying out, “This moment is good!” With the parade of regret and anxiety occupying the theater of your mind, there’s little room for contentment.
Worst yet, when you can’t be present in the moment, you will struggle to feel connected to God. God is infinite, beyond time. But God’s existence intersects with ours in one place — this present moment.
Here. Now. In this one moment, this is where we have the possibility of sensing the presence of Jesus through the indwelling Spirit. Here, and nowhere else.
Being present matters so much. Everything good we want lies there. But we avoid the present for good reason. Being present also means being aware of our fear.
Today’s a joyful moment, but also a fearful one.
OK… that’s all just a long introduction. It’s an attempt to get at what’s universal about an experience I’m having right now.
See, today is one of those normal days, but for me, it’s also a special day. It’s the day that the Audiobook for The Wisdom Of Your Heart officially comes out. That’s news in itself, but it’s also an important marker for me.
Today marks the end of the project. The earliest documents on my computer that were building blocks toward this book are from 2010. That’s Nine years. Nine years of dreaming and growing, of personal healing, and hard writing. Nine years of facing my inner struggles, and stepping into vulnerability so that my experience could be of help to others. Nine years.
Releasing the audiobook means that journey has come to fruition. I fully did what I set out to do.
Now, here’s why I started with an introduction about being present. There is a real risk that I will fall into old coping mechanisms today. Why? Because being present to this moment means being present to complicated and even painful feelings. Some of the feelings are so strong; I want to run.
I’m grateful to have had the chance to write and be published. I’m terrified I won’t be able to get the chance again. I’m honored that people are reading my words and finding them helpful. I’m anxious that people will read those words and judge me, think me a fraud.
I’m thankful for everything I’ve learned in the process and how I’ve grown, grateful for God working in this long and painful journey. I’m fearful because finishing this project means starting something new, and I already know that is going to invite me to go into places of deeper vulnerability.
I’m excited to see my book on Amazon, and Barnes & Noble, and ChristianBooks.com, and to see the audiobook available for people. How cool is all of that? And I’m tormented by the idea that nobody will read the books and I’m just wasting my time.
This one present moment is jam-packed with feelings. I want to sigh and take a moment to celebrate. I want to thank God for giving me this chance. And then my mind spins out and starts running circles down the paths of regret and worry.
All the good is on the other side!
Why share all of that? Well… because I know that I’m not alone. I know that a lot of us have something we want to do in the world. Some way we hope to make a difference.
For some of us the thing that is stopping us is the pain of facing all those worries and regrets. We worry that we are not enough. We fear that our efforts won’t matter. We’re anxious that some gatekeeper will show up and tell us we’re not qualified. We don’t want to look stupid. We don’t want to fail. The cost of facing that present keeps us from taking the risk of stepping into that thing.
I know. I did that for years. I started projects and never finished them because I was afraid of failing. I came up with great ideas and then worried them into a cold perfection, drained of vibrancy, because I didn’t want to make a mistake. I didn’t reach out to collaborators because I was afraid of their rejection. I lived inside the confines of a small circle where I felt comfortable.
Bringing The Wisdom of Your Heart to completion is my most significant effort to step outside of this pattern of living—and in the process of facing the fear, I’ve grown more than in doing anything else I’ve ever done, and I’ve seen God at work in me in ways I’ve never seen before. I want to encourage you to take that same kind of step.
Look, I hope you’ll buy the book. I want you to buy it because I think it will help you and because I want to be a writer for the rest of my life, supporting my family with my words. I want you to get the new audiobook because you’ll hear my voice, and perhaps that will build a stronger connection between us, and maybe I’ll be able to be a trusted companion on your journey of growth.
But more than that—even today, the day of the audiobook launch—I want you to be present to the moment you are in, to face the fears and insecurities that are keeping you corralled in a tiny circle of safety, and do the thing God’s placed on your heart.