Peace in the Present

Today I realized something about peace and that is that peace is found in the present. 

I have found that the more I can be

content,

focused

and faithful

in the here and now the more peace I tend to have. 

And this makes sense when we consider that the two major thieves of peace are regret and anxiety. Is there any other things that take away our peace more than regret and anxiety? I can't think of anything.

Regret tries to get you to live in your past by filling your mind with thoughts like

Why did I do that?

If only I would have listened.

I wish I didn't do _________.

Anxiety steals your peace by trying to get you to live in your future. It does this by filling your mind with thoughts like

What if I don't find the right person to marry?

What if I don't get that job? What will I do?

What if I fail?

I think the reason regret and anxiety are stealers of peace is because regret and anxiety attempt to convince you that you can change your past and control you future. Like trying to grab a wave it crashes right past me and nothing I can do will make the next wave come any faster.

Because you can't change the past.

And you can't control your future. Let's be honest, you can't even guarantee your future.

“Regret is found when we try and live in the past. 
Anxiety is found when we try and live in the future.
Peace is found when we live in the present.
But what you do control is your present. What is within your grasp is the here and now. This very moment is yours to do with as you please. And I don't know about you but that is incredibly freeing to know. It's freeing to know that life is not dependent on me changing my past or on my ability to control my future. 

Your present will soon become a new memory. Enjoy it and make it a good one.

Your present is your future arrived. Notice how it found you without your help?

Peace is found in letting go of the two things you will never control. Your past and your future. @@Peace is found in grabbing a hold of the only thing you can control – your present.@@

Be here.

Be now.

Be at peace. 

God's not boring.

When I was a child, my dad would often tell us kids that we were leaving town and to pack a bag. He wouldn’t really tell us what to pack and he certainly wouldn’t tell us where we were going. My ten year old self was a bit of a control freak and way too inhibited for these sort of antics by my highly spontaneous father.

I remember feeling annoyed each time this happened. Why, dad? Why can’t you tell us in advance so we can have a few days to pack up our things and mentally prepare? I remember anxiously crying and wanting to stay put in the comfort of my home. It wasn’t that I didn’t like adventure, but that I highly favored familiarity. I was not at all spontaneous and relied heavily on planned events.

When I think about it, there is probably a reason that I didn’t like these unplanned moments to pop up. My parents separated when I was eight years old, which left me feeling as though unexpected events were always going to lead to heartbreak and despair. I always preferred to know what was happening and when, presumably because of my past. It probably still didn’t give an excuse for my crazy meltdowns, but makes a bit more sense. (Sorry dad.)

After our bags were packed, we would all jump in the car and head off to this unknown adventure. I would still be my bratty little ten year old self and be annoyed on the outside, but inwardly I would be holding on to a small sense of wonder and amusement. With Dave Matthews playing in the background, my dad would give us little clues on where we were going while my brother and I got to guess. Our guesses were always wrong because we didn’t know the lay of the land like my dad did. Eventually, we would arrive at our destination and have a blast hiking around, climbing rocks and cliff jumping.

When I met Christ, I’d like to say I fully ditched planning. I’d like to say that I am completely spontaneous and welcome new circumstances with arms wide open. However, it’s just not true. I have come a long way - I don’t meltdown every time a new circumstance arises and I am much more comfortable with spontaneity. My human nature causes me to cling to my plans more often than not, but I’ve learned that my plans kinda stink. Actually, they really stink.

God has shown me that His plans are far better than mine, on multiple occasions. Just like my biological father, my Heavenly Father brings new adventures to me regularly. Sometimes I’m annoyed, but most of the time I am filled with that same mentality of wonder and amusement as I did when I was a child. I get excited and wonder where God is taking me, knowing that His plans have proved to be pretty dang awesome.

The spontaneous adventures my dad took us on helped form my adventurous spirit that I have today. My dad helped me see that life is better unplanned and to go with the flow. What my experiences with God have shown me is that His adventures are far better than my minuscule ones. Sure, I don’t know exactly the route or what to pack, but those things don’t seem to matter when it’s His plan. He provides each and every thing I need for which He’s called me, and shown me that His plans are even more beautiful and entertaining than I thought they ever could be. Following Jesus is not simple, but it’s never uneventful. God keeps me on my toes, for sure. His plans often tear me open, raw to my bones - making me susceptible to ulterior ways of thinking. I don’t know the way of the land like my dad does, and neither of us know it like our God does.

God is constantly tugging on my heart saying, “Lauren, pack your bags.” while I sit and say, “But God, where are we going?”

You don’t need an answer. Just go. Allow Him to open your eyes and to shape your heart. God isn’t a boring God, He’s a God of adventure.

Are you going to get in the truck or cry at home?

This too shall pass

Recently I came across the book IF by Mark Batterson. This book takes apart Romans 8 challenging the reader to "trade in their If Only regrets, and turn them into What If possibilities.”

There is a point in the book where Batterson points out a phrase, "this too shall pass.” This phrase is used 436 times in the King James Version of the Bible. If you know me I am not a huge numbers girl, but something about the amount of times this phrase is used caught my attention. "This too shall pass.”

It's as if the authors who put this down throughout Scripture wanted to remind us that whatever we had gone through or are going through, there is grace and hope. Whether your regretting a certain instance in your life or chained to an old habit, our God is sovereign and gracious and has freed you. It has passed. Batterson encouraged readers that if their is a job you are waiting to hear back on or a dream you can not shake, hold onto it, it will come to pass. In the midst of the "passing" time, I have been challenged to not get frustrated while I wait. Instead, I have been challenged to be bold and fervent in prayer.

Far too often I pray puny prayers, instead of audacious powerful prayers. God is not intimated by my prayers or yours. Why not pray for that miracle you need and not food to be blessed. Our country is in desperate need for fervent, courageous, and bold prayers too. If it's any time to step up into powerful prayers, it's now. Our country is crying out for this time to pass. And it WILL. There IS hope. The best IS yet to come.

And "if God is for us, who can be against us?!"That deserves an Amen at the end if I don't say so myself.

Adios, Headphones.

Living in San Francisco, I take a lot of public transit. I spend about two hours on busses and trains each day just from home to work.

I actually really enjoy taking the bus. I have always loved people watching and Muni in San Francisco is my second favorite spot to people watch - the first being the airport. I enjoy seeing the diversity and the different cultures the city encompasses. However, I am starting to feel guilty. I’m feeling guilty because most of the time, I’m sitting watching with my eyes and not doing anything about it. I’m not putting in effort to smile at people or talk with them. I’m just another person on the bus with headphones in, hoping someone doesn’t try to talk to me.

For as long as I can remember, I have put headphones in as soon as I leave the house. Whether I was walking around campus, going for a run or taking a bus, I would go with headphones in my ears. Maybe it would be different if I genuinely wanted to listen to music, but many times I do it because I don’t want people to talk to me. I’ve had two instances where I didn’t want to talk to people, both somehow forcing me to take out my dang earbuds to converse.

This is a problem in my mind. Why don’t I want people to talk to me? I love to hear stories and to hear where people come from, but simply not when I’m commuting. That’s my time, my thirty minutes to plug in and ignore. But what about the conversations I could be missing out on? What about the person who may feel lonely or may have forgotten their headphones that day? I have had some great bus conversations with friends, why can’t I make that happen on my commute too?

I also listen to music when I hike or when I go on my morning runs. Honestly, I genuinely love music. I love to connect with worship and I really find peace within the lyrics and melody of a song. But I find I’m unable to connect fully with nature when I constantly have music playing in my head. When I take my headphones out and listen to the waves crash against the sand, hear the birds sing in the trees or listen to cars whip past me on the freeway, I’m reminded of where I am and what I’m doing here. I can connect with what is around me and not live in my own world. I can sit in silence and be perfectly ok with that.

Don’t get me wrong, I think music is great. There are songs that touch my soul and give me immense comfort in times when I need it the most. I find acoustics to be beautiful and I love to find new artists. I like to think that even Jesus would plug in headphones sometimes and dance around to Michael Buble or Ben Rector (Mainly Ben Rector because he’s great) in His off time. But one thing Jesus for sure wouldn't do is put in headphones to ignore and disconnect.

I have found that I try to trick myself into thinking it’s alright if I’m listening to Hillsong or I Am They (my current favorite!) constantly. I’m still bringing glory to God by this, aren’t I? I’m still meditating on scripture, just through song and ignoring everything else around me.

Ignoring everything around me is precisely the problem here. So headphones, I’m saying goodbye for now. I actually forgot them at a friends house recently, so that is where they will stay until I can learn to enjoy the beautiful city I live in without constantly having to disconnect and retreat to myself. I encourage you to toss the headphones too. Maybe just for a bus ride, a run, or a walk downtown. Instead, fill that time with prayer, personal thought, actually talking to another human or simply enjoying the natural sounds of the city you’ve been blessed to be a part of.

I’m excited to see what I learn and to connect on a more personal level with this beauty of a city I get to live in.

I hope you’ll try too.