As I think back over my life thus far, I can honestly say that I felt present in most instances. Due to my sensitive nature, I have an overactive sense of what is going on in the moment or during a period. Often that awareness affects my countenance, mood, energy, reactions, and daily movements. As a result, at the age of 50, I enjoyed so many parts of my life and my kids growing up because I was able to be present. I settled in for the moment and the experience, but I had an awareness of the overall journey.
When Emma went to kindergarten I jumped in. We were in a new neighborhood, one that was family-centric with parks, pool, and the school all within walking distance. I became room mom and helped in the classroom, but also spent time at the park with Cole. I remember pushing the double jogger as we walked Emma to school and thinking how grateful I was for where we lived and the environment we lived in. The year was one of new friends, new discoveries, relationship building and experiences that would last a lifetime. But I knew her kindergarten year would end and it would be time to move on to the next thing, the next phase, or the next experience.
So I settled into the time, but in some way, I did not settle.
That year and many others felt like a warm, heavy blanket on a cold rainy day, one of my favorite experiences and places to be. It felt comfortable and safe and lovely. But there was this awareness in the corners of my mind and emotions that the refreshing, calming, rain would stop and the next moment would begin.
Settle: to establish in residence, to fix or resolve conclusively, to establish or secure permanently, to come to rest
In retrospect, I settled into periods of time, but somewhere in my mind, sometimes acutely and sometimes in the far recesses, I knew that it would end and that transition and new would come. Now, at the time I was not doing this consciously or with any type of awareness, but I am glad for the understanding that this is how I progressed and grew. I followed the same pattern in hard times also.
When my mother battled breast cancer I took a leave of absence from work, continued my Master’s program from a distance and left my new husband in our home holding down the fort. I spent six weeks at home with my mother. We spent the time we never had before. I asked questions, sat in the struggle with her and introduced her to the life I was living 500 miles away from her. I participated in this time willingly, honestly and with intention, but also knowing the time would end and my mother’s time on earth was close to completion. She passed away 6 months after this period. Maybe I was more prepared for the inevitability of a battle lost and maybe I wasn’t, but I did not feel as if I missed out on anything in those six weeks.
God has set us up to be able to settle into moments, but He also does not want us to settle. He desires us to keep our eyes fixed on him while continuing the path set before us with intention and focus.
“…let us lay aside every weight and the sin that so easily ensnares. Let us run with endurance the race that lies before us, keeping our eyes on Jesus, the source and perfecter of our faith…”
This is how we run a race. We settle into the pace, our feet hitting the ground, the swish of our arms at our sides, finding a stride that is sustainable but knowing there is a finish. Isn’t the awareness of that finish what enables us to do our best in the strides?
While in my 20s and 30s I settled in but did not settle. I was aware times and experiences would change. I was aware that moves happen and transitions take place and that we are to be present in all but not to become fixed. In my early 40s, I became fixed. I established residence in parenting and the life that I believed would take me into my 50s, 60s, and beyond. I became fixed on the plan I had in mind and the future that I thought I would experience. I took my eyes off the possibility of change and transition and life events and as a result, I lost out on growth. I stopped striving and stopped running the race.
Then with a jolt, I woke up. An announcement that I never saw coming rocked me to my core. My heavenly Father was there and present. He scooped me up and showed me how to set my eyes on Him, once again. He equipped me to find my footing and to begin again, the race before me. He showed me how to return to the awareness of the moment but to not lose focus on the end goal.
“Consider it a great joy, my brothers, whenever you experience various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. But endurance must do its complete work, so that you may be mature and complete, lacking nothing.”
And so, in retrospect, I encourage you to settle into your moments, experiences, and life as you know it but don’t settle. Don’t become fixed, be aware that there is always a race or a journey or a transition in the future. This is not to say that we go through life with the anticipation of catastrophe or with worry and fear. On the contrary, go through life, my sister, with an awareness of the beauty of what is being sewn together with all the moments, events, growth, and transitions as you settle into each one. The awareness of the ultimate beauty focuses you on the importance of the present.
By His Grace