Wednesday, 25 October 2017

Be Present: Embrace the Season You're In

By Megan James

Growing up, my nan used to have a million funny little sayings she'd come out with on a daily basis, and one that has stuck with me is this: 'Patience is a virtue, possess it if you can. You'll find it in a woman, but never in a man.' I don't know why this (albeit completely sexist and pretty false) rhyme has stuck in my head so much, but it has, and I've found myself chasing this virtue recently more than ever.

Patience and I are at times best friends - give me a challenging child in work and my patience will be my trusty companion for daaaaaaaays. But sometimes it can feel like Patience is merely a friend of a friend, someone I met once or twice at a party and could probably recognise by face, but the connection goes no deeper. I think what really challenges my patience and causes this distance is my constant looking forward; my mindset of waiting

So often I am not truly present to the current season of my life, but instead I use that season as a waiting room for the next. When I was at uni, I was waiting for graduation. When I graduated, I was waiting for a job. When I got a job, I was waiting for a better job with a higher salary. While I'm single, I am waiting for my spouse. I am never fully present, nor content with where I am now. 

One of my favourite writers, and all round top guy, C. S. Lewis speaks into this problem of planning and waiting, and says;

"Never, in peace or war, commit your virtue or your happiness to the future. Happy work is best done by the man who takes his long-term plans somewhat lightly and works from moment to moment 'as to the Lord'. 
It is only our daily bread we are encouraged to ask for. 
The present is the only time in which any duty can be done or any grace received."

 - C. S. Lewis (The Weight of Glory)

I read this quote recently and it really hit home. We cannot commit our happiness to the future, but instead need to find happiness and gratitude in this very moment, in this current season. If we are constantly looking forward, not only will we never feel truly satisfied, but life will pass us by and we won't see the amazing things God is doing for us every day! We’ll miss this daily bread He is providing!

I remember going around a friend’s flat last year and seeing a big jigsaw lay out on her desk. While we were talking, I sat at her desk and started absent-mindedly playing with the pieces. After a while, she came and sat next to me, and started filling in lots of random pieces. However, in all that time, I hadn’t filled in a single piece because I was too busy staring frustrated at one piece that was missing from an otherwise complete section. I just could not find that one piece and it drove me crazy! Afterwards, I realised how stupid I had been. I had wasted so much time and so many opportunities sat there torturing myself over one empty piece, passing by all the chances to fill in other areas of the puzzle! This made me realise, I often treat life in a very similar way.

For me, I'm constantly thinking 'when [this] happens, then I will be happy', and I focus on that one thing that is lacking or missing, and I wait and I wait for it to happen. When I do this, I’m basically staring at the missing piece of the puzzle, and ignoring a) all the amazing pieces God has already provided and filled in in my life, and b) the many other pieces (opportunities) God is offering me to play with and fit together! When we focus on what we're waiting for, it's so easy to believe nothing good is happening, because all we see is empty space

As C. S. Lewis says, we are called to ask for our 'daily bread', we are called to live moment by moment, thanking God for every day. Yes, we can hope and trust in Him for the future, but the future is not where our happiness lies. Our happiness is found now, in Christ, and if we cannot embrace that, then it's unlikely we will ever truly feel content with whatever future plan we are clinging to, because there will always be that next season in mind. We need to learn to be present in whatever season we're in.

Of course, the season may not always be pleasant; Winter can be cold, and it can feel lonely, or Summer can be uncomfortable and burn you; however, with Winter comes Christmas, and with Summer comes long nights and holidays! 

My point is this; embrace the season, be present, and find the good. Thank God for whatever season He has placed you in, and know, seasons come and they go, so don't let this one pass you by without fully appreciating the good (because there will be some!) that He has sent your way. Stop wishing your life away, you're right where you need to be right now, so look around and take it all in.

“If I did not simply live from one moment to another, it would be impossible for me to be patient, but I only look at the present, I forget the past, and I take good care not to forestall the future.” 

―  St.Thérèse of Lisieux 


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