This week summer is ending. The college kids leave and the teeners and mom and dad go back to school. As summer ends, it’s tempting to chalk it up as one more year, to moan about the things I didn’t get done, and say, “Next year.”
But I don’t want to live for “Next year.”
I’ve spend time this summer watching a lot of Ken Burn films. As a former history teacher, I understand how specific events shape generations.
Each of us has a past, a present and a future. With each breath, we step into future moments, living in the present that’s shaped by our past.
How well do you hold these things in balance?
History challenges me – people lived in moments that defined important, life-changing events. Your daily events don’t seem life-changing, but every moment we live defines our lives.
To live well, we need to walk into the future while being fully present now, not dwelling on the past.
- Are you dwelling on your past and letting it define you?
- Are you wasting the present by not being intentional about things that matter?
- Are you anxious about the future, longing for something different and grumbling about your present?
I’ve been thinking about time, aging, and kids growing up. I’m realizing how important each moment is. I can’t undo the past but it effects my present. Choices I’ve made have determined the future in significant ways. As I look to the future, I don’t want to be stuck longing for what was or fearful of what’s ahead.
So how do we live well today?
Learn from the past and apply lessons to the present. History does repeat itself. When we apply lessons from the past, we can change outcomes.
- Don’t let the past define your present, your identity, or hope for the future. Each day begins with a clean slate, a fresh start, an opportunity for change.
- Realize consequences from the past are what they are. New behavior can change but consequences from the past have to run their course. While you can’t change the consequences, asking yourself “What am I going to do about it?” can define present and future possibilities.
- Don’t wish today away. “Once I get a different job,” “Once the kids get bigger,” or “Once things slow down” are common things we say. You may not get the raise, the kids will eventually leave, and things may not slow down. Live today with the opportunities presented.
- Consider how present choices affect the future. Small decisions impact us both good and bad whether we realize it or not. Daily choices define our priorities that dictate how we live our lives. We just don’t wake up one day and live in successes or failures. They are shaped in our present.
- Change happens the moment you to do something about your past, present, or future. “Just do it” is the million dollar answer. Pick up the pen, make the move, say what needs to be said.
As a forty-something reflecting on life like “Mid-Lifers” before me, there are moments I wish I could hold onto. But going backwards isn’t the way to finish life well. I want to be thankful for where I am, make the most of each day, while not dreading what’s ahead.
How about you? Are there things in your present, past or future you need to release, take hold of, or change? What are steps you can make today to make that happen? Will you share that with us?
Dear Father, will you equip each one of us with your mercies that are new every morning? Will you equip us to see what you have for us in the fullness of today? Thank you that you are the God of our past, our present and future. Amen.
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