Friday, June 21, 2019

How to Stay in the Present

By: Sarah Geringer

Do you struggle with staying in the present? Maybe you are stuck in the past, like I have been most of my life. Perhaps you are too forward-focused. I don't know many people who aren't in one of these camps.

The Lord has been teaching me how to value the present and why it's so important. In my long journey of emotional healing, he has shown me the value of a single day.

Recently God reminded me of this verse:

This is the day the Lord has made;
We will rejoice and be glad in it. Psalm 118:24 NKJV

When I have been meditating on Psalm 118:24, I put the emphasis on the word "This." It reminds me to rejoice in THIS day, this 24-hour period in front of me, which God has handmade for my learning, service, and enjoyment. I need to look for ways to rejoice in IT, not be stuck in the past or in the future.

The Bible warns us against focusing too much on the past or future. Jesus told us that each day has enough troubles of its own, so we should not worry about the future. He lived in the present better than anyone else ever has, and we can learn much by studying his pace in the Gospels. The apostle Paul told us that he literally viewed his past as trash so he could serve God with freedom in the present. He pressed on toward the prize awaiting him for serving God, but he did not neglect the joys and responsibilities of the present.

These are the benefits I've experienced from taking one day at a time, and you can experience them too:

1. Fewer nightmares. When you sleep, your brain sorts out all the thoughts and feelings you have had during the day. If you are ruminating on the past or worrying about the future, the negativity can manifest as nightmares. When I am stressed, I have dreams with spiders in them, and they disrupt my sleep. My spider dreams have dramatically decreased since I've begun focusing on the present.

2. Less cluttered thoughts. I literally repeat Psalm 118:24 every time I have a stressful thought about the past or future. Sometimes I say it out loud, putting strong emphasis on "This." Simply restating this verse through Christian meditation helps place me in the present again. It sweeps past- or future-focused thoughts away. If I repeat the verse throughout the day, I'm much more mindful and centered.

3. A peaceful heart. Every day, I make a list of things that cause me to rejoice or feel glad, and I pray this list back to God. When I choose gratitude and delight, my heart truly feels more peaceful. I normally do this in the afternoon or evening as I reflect on the day's blessings, but it's a good practice any time of the day.

I recently shared a Promise Keepers video on Facebook that helped me learn what the Bible has to say about staying in the present. You can watch it here. I'd love for you to like my page while you visit!

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Have a wonderful weekend!

Blessings and God's peace to you,

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Reflection questions:

1. Are you more past-focused or future-focused, and why?

2. How does Psalm 118:24 inspire you to stay in the present?

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