A Year of Choices
By Barbara Dahlgren
I’m a big believer in living in the present.
So many people live in the past, constantly lamenting what might have been. They obsess over things like…if only I had married the geek I thought was a loser in college who became a millionaire. If only I had taken that job with the start-up company I thought would go nowhere but went sky high. If only I hadn’t gotten pregnant at sixteen. If only I had finished college instead of dropping out. If only I hadn’t gotten drunk and had a tattoo of a naked lady put on my arm. If only, if only, if only…
Everyone’s life is full of missed opportunities, some unwise decisions, and regret. These things cannot be changed. Yet many seem held captive by things they can do nothing about.
Others put their lives on hold waiting for the future. As soon as all their preconceived needs are met they will get their priorities straight and live the good life.
Both extremes of living in the past or waiting for the future are immobilizing and prevent us from going forward. Christian’s lives should not be held in suspended animation. We must keep moving by walking with God on our day by day journey. That’s what living in the present is all about.
God knows all our needs and doesn’t want us to worry about them. (Matthew 6:25-32) He is fully capable of taking care of them. Our focus needs to be on seeking the kingdom of God. (Matthew 6:33-34) This means building a relationship with God on a daily basis. Seek him day by day. That’s our priority – and we can’t do it when we are constantly lamenting the past or waiting for the future.
When we learn to do this we don’t have to wait for the future, we can look forward and move into the future. Living in the present by walking daily with God helps us accept and learn from our past, then move on into the future. We are moving towards something. Paul says to forget what is behind and move forward. (Philippians 3:13-14)
Christians cannot afford to be stagnant. We need to learn from the past so we don’t make the same mistakes over and over again, live in the present to continue building a lasting relationship with God but move forward with Him into the future.
There is no better time to focus on this concept than when we are facing a New Year.
Consider this… We don’t know what lies ahead of us this next year, but we do know our God has it all under control. He goes before us. He walks beside us. Our days are in His loving hands. (Psalm 31:15) So we can move forward with confidence in Him. It beats being left behind.
Suggestions for practicing this choice…
- When you are tempted to lament the past, think of what happened to Lot’s wife when she looked back. (Genesis 19:26)
- Focus on your strengths, not your weaknesses. Look for ways you can serve others using the gifts and talents God has given you.
- Focus on how far you have come, not how far you have to go. Sometimes it’s positive reinforcement to list what you have done. There will always be stuff left to do.
- Stay close to God. Walk with Him. Talk with Him. That’s how a relationship is built.
- There’s nothing wrong with a little self improvement. That’s what New Year’s resolutions are all about. But this year instead of resolving to lose weight which will only last until you start craving potato chips, why not focus on being a nicer person. Resolve to smile, do some random acts of kindness or say “please” and “thank you.” You’ll be happier and so will everyone around you.