I’m guilty of doing this thing I don’t want to do. Like all bad habits, it’s hard to break. I catch myself in it, red-handed and guilty before I even realize I’m doing it. Again. And each time I’m surprised, always surprised because I think I’ve quit doing it. That last time was supposed to be the last time, only it wasn’t.
It occurs to me to put my ever-present challenge in very public words. Like an addict in a twelve step program recognizing the need for accountability, I spill my guts towards the goal of recovery. Here it is in black and white: I use the moment I’m in like a holding cell. I’m guilty of short-changing now for later. Sometimes it’s excitement I feel about later, other times it’s dread, but both make me miss the now.
I can’t tell you how long I’ve been aware of the
tendency problem, (see how I caught myself trying to make it sound better than it is?), but decades would not be an exaggeration. My children were still small when I realized I was in danger of losing the moments of their lives if I didn’t quit thinking in terms of, “I can’t wait to get through the teething stage”, “I can’t wait to get through with diapers”, “I can’t wait to get through with t-ball”, or “I can’t wait to get through with dance recitals. ” The list could go on and on if I let it gain momentum, through their high school years, through college, through weddings…
I made a decision back then to quit.
I’ve since made a lot of decisions to quit.
At one point in the last few years I decided to banish all forms of my habit from my language. I stopped saying things like, “Just let me get past the Christmas season”, or “Just let me get through with this wedding shower I’m hosting”, in an effort to quit giving up the now. Problem solved? I wish. Banning external speech patters is like an alcoholic banning whisky in the house. It’s a good start, a well-intentioned move, but it doesn’t mean the opportunity to stumble won’t present itself again, and soon.
Last year, I did a word study on gratitude that went a long ways towards this new way of living I wanted and needed. I became specifically enamored of the word “eucharisteo”. At it’s core the word speaks to me of a way of life I began calling Living Thanksgiving, a grateful acknowledgment to God of the moment– this very moment, not the next. I began whispering these words during the day, in good times and in bad, “Thank you God for this moment, right here, right now.” It helped me establish a new habit, which is the best way of breaking an old one. A void is a door propped open to the familiar past.
Here’s the good news. When I remember the practice of Eucharisteo, I squeeze every drop of goodness from the good, and God tempers the pain of the bad. When I remember Eucharisteo, I not only watch Dr. Emerson and Nurse Carlisle tend to a wounded Froggie– I taste their little girl joy.
Here’s the bad news. This morning I was having breakfast with two of my most favorite males when I realized to my dismay that I was in fast-forward. Grant and Connor sat within my grasp. Soon I would be back home in Louisiana missing their little boy sugar and yet, in my head, I was checking off the seven hour drive home, scanning the work week, and preparing material for its deadlines.
Suddenly, in the entwined fingers of five month old Connor as he studied the fascinating yet elusive digits that are always well within his reach but not quite obedient to his commands, I saw the truth of Eucharisteo, a fascination for the moment. Living Thanksgiving.
And I came home to the moment. Thank you, Father, for the reminder.
I want to learn to live before I die.
And I want you to join me.
I love to hear from you. And to prove it– for the rest of April, anyone who leaves a comment box will get his or her name thrown in a pot. I’ll send out a signed copy of Sue Ellen’s Girl Ain’t Fat, She Just Weighs Heavy to a lucky winner on my birthday, April 30th! Kind of like a Happy Birthday gift in reverse!