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.
How are you doing with that today?
- 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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A friend told me: Our history is not our destiny. That seems to summarize your post quite well. I have been dwelling on my past, present, and future as I turn 25 in just over 2 weeks. I have said for years, “I am going to travel the world.” Yet, I have yet to step outside American soil (except for running 3 miles through Windsor, Canada in the Detroit Marathon). I keep making the excuse that “I don’t have the money.” Well, as a medical student, I’m not going to have money for a long time. I think it’s time for a change – I am looking into traveling to Nepal at the end of my 4th year to do medical mission work with my aunt, OB/GYN. Thanks for the important reminder that our daily choices may appear mundane but collectively, they come to define our lives. Carpe diem – seize the day!
Thanks for your words, Brenda.
Inspiring post my friend. I hope to make the most of the present, to use my past to correct my mistakes so hopefully the future ahead will be more bright, happier, peaceful. But in all these, love of family and God fuels us to make each day, better than yesterday. Best wishes to you and your family.
Thank you for this wise post! What you write is important to me. You help me to follow a new way of thinking.
Thank you for reading and being challenged! Thank you for taking the time to comment. Have a great week.