That’s what’s snapped me back to the present. I watched my daughter run after bubbles in our backyard after the warm evening sun had beckoned us outside. Whether it was the prismatic colors from the light hitting the fragile orbs or her sweet toddler laughter, I can’t be sure. Something caused a shift in me. I realized this was a moment I wanted to remember. I was grateful to be in this place and time.
Too often I’m hoping to just make it through each moment, sometimes praying so. With a babe five weeks old and another eighteen months old, life seems like chaos more than not. Before, and then looking back, I can see I’ll make it through one way or another (or I’m pretty sure), but in the midst of it, there is so much failure: sharp words, raised voices, unfinished tasks.
Every turn offers an opportunity for guilt and/or self pity. I haven’t had time to shower today. I shouldn’t have raised my voice at her. Why won’t he stop crying and sleep? Will there be a time I don’t look at my toes and cringe? This house…yikes!
In the midst of assessing how I’ve fallen short of my own expectations, comparison creeps in. Oh, that little thief of contentment is no stranger to me. What’s worse is that I’m comparing my reality against my perception of another’s reality. With social media, we can see how great everyone else is doing at life, right? *eye roll* Comparison quickly compounds what was just personal failure into much greater “worse than most” failure, so that I end up an awful mom, wife, and Christian most days before nine o’clock.
Feeling like a failure and focusing on it renders one useless in the present. C.S. Lewis exposes one of the Enemy’s tactics in The Screwtape Letters when the demon tempting the subject is commissioned with one task: don’t let him think about the present. It’s the only period of time in which he has choices. The past is gone. The future is out of his control. But NOW is where he can be effective and choose the fruits of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22-33) and that which is good (Phil. 4:8).
All I have is now. All you have is now. Make a choice, even if only of your perspective. What will get your now? Regret? Self pity? Fear of future failure? Pick a different lens.
My word for 2016 is GRATITUDE. Unknowingly, my sister-in-law got me a journal for Christmas where you log your favorite moments of each day. I’ve made it five whole months with successful completion! It’s a fantastic habit to implement. It’s helped gently curb my perspective and slightly hone my gratitude muscle. Disclaimer: I still have miles to go since complaining is sometimes my superpower.
That day, bubbles prompted that sharpened skill to surface. I was grateful for my daughter and the ability to share that moment with her. I didn’t miss it. I didn’t have to wish I had relished it more as I reflected on it that night. I was present. I made much of that now.
May I be a vessel of gratitude instead of a pool of self-pity. May God continue to awaken me to the good gifts around me now, in this moment.
Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. James 1:17 (NIV)