With the end of a year and the beginning of a new year, many of us spend some time both looking back and looking forward. At the end of the year it may be natural to assess what we have done, what we have accomplished, what were our successes and what were our failures. We may judge the year based on the goals we have met or the dreams that are unfulfilled.
The start of a new year often represents opportunities and a clean slate where anything is possible. As a result, we may do some dreaming of what we hope will happen in the new year. We may also set us some new goals and embark on some planning to help us meet those goals.
Looking back and looking ahead can even help us let go of what we need to let go of and move toward what will be good for us. Looking back and looking ahead might even be necessary steps in our life journey when it comes to what is healthy for us. However, too much looking back and too much looking ahead leads us to neglect the present.
There are times when it is almost as if we are either living in the past (which is already gone). In these times we are perhaps dwelling on the “good old days” and longing for their return, or we are mulling over everything we could have done and should have done. The reality is, for better or worse, all of that is in the past, and while we can learn from the past, it’s not healthy to live in the past.
The same goes for the future. It’s good to have some goals and dreams and plans, but we can’t put our life on hold waiting for that “some” day to finally arrive.
What we have been given is the gift of the present. This is a gift from God for each one of us. Over focusing on the past or future, costs us the present. Our ELCA national bishop, Elizabeth Eaton recently wrote about driving to work and when she arrived, not being able to remember anything of the drive because she was so absorbed in what was coming up. In other words, she missed out on living in the present. Bishop Eaton then offered these words for meditation and prayer, “Just this. Just now.”
“Just this, just now” have become a prayer for me when I find myself dwelling too much in the past or the future. When I find myself anxious about the future “just this, just now” helps bring me back to the present and how God is with me. When I find myself longing for the days of the past or wishing I could re-do something “just this, just now,” helps me let go of what I cannot change and see the blessings of the present.
As we move into the year of 2018, may we live in the present – “Just this. Just now.”
A gift from God.