EMPOWERMENT TO GET THROUGH TRIALS: STAYING PRESENT
I posted earlier some notes from a conversation with a widow friend of mine and one of our church leaders and his wife. This is more from Him and from chapter 5 of the book PEACE BE UNTO THY SOUL by Joseph L. Bishop. My widow friend has also written a blog post on this same topic so you can read her's as well...
This idea is so critical for getting through trials! I just cannot say that enough.
In the present is the only time that we can use our agency. The past is done and cannot be changed. We can learn from it, but cannot affect it. The future is beyond our scope of influence as well. Sure we can make plans and set goals for things we want in the future, but events out of our control can change those outcomes. (I have learned this all too well.)
All we have the power to affect is the NOW
Right here, right now, is the only place we can WIN!
That is what we have to focus on, what we can do now.
Satan tries to get us to dig up the past (The would have, could have, should have's). He wants us to get discouraged and bring up past transgressions and failings. He wants us to doubt and to question things and events from the past. He also wants us to go to the future with (what if's) that can paralyze us and make a us fearful and unable to act in the present.
” Sometimes we let our thoughts of tomorrow take up too much of today. Daydreaming of the past and longing for the future may provide comfort but will not take the place of living in the present. This is the day of our opportunity, and we must grasp it." - Thomas S Monson
Q: When has doubt or fear happened in the present?
A: It doesn't! It is always pulled from things in the future or from the past.
Joy is in the present, Love and The Spirit are in the present.
The task is to GET PRESENT!
The adversary has much less power in the present.
In our circle of agency we are required to control what is inside of us (emotions, feeling, attitudes, actions, and behaviors). Outside of our agency we can only be of influence to other people, but we cannot control them. Outside of our agency we have to simple trust God.
Being in the present is about using our agency wisely today. It is not about "live for the moment" and "don't think about the consequences." Tomorrow will eventually become today and we will still have to face those. What we have to do is do the best we can today and then trust that God will help us through all of the new todays.
"There is no tomorrow to remember if we don’t do something today, and to live most fully today, we must do that which is of greatest importance. Let us not procrastinate those things which matter most." - Thomas S Monson
Being 'present' means
that we are activity looking and controlling the thoughts in our mind. We are not absently letting it wander wherever it will. We are choosing what to focus on and what to discard. We are acting and not being acted upon.
"Allowing our thoughts to choose the direction of our lives without understanding where that choice will lead is problematic at best and life threatening at worst."- Joseph L. Bishop PhD
Being in control and actively choosing what to dwell on is the first step in gaining control back of your life. I think of how much time I have wasted by letting my thoughts wander and I think of how worked up I have made myself by thinking about things I cannot change or that may never be. What a huge distraction this is! If Satan can't get us to flip sides then he definitely can get us distracted even in our own heads!
"The degree to which we are present- or how consistently we refuse to allow our thoughts to take on on some meaningless, unauthorized excursion to the past or into the further- is the degree to which we control our destiny."We must be vigilant in recognizing what unchecked toxic thoughts can do to us. As we begin to identify them we can start to overcome unresolved grief and break down larger patterns of grief-provoking thoughts. With patience and practice we can learn to direct our thoughts to deal with grief in productive ways.
It is important to 'clean house' and 'take out the garbage' from our minds. Just because grief or heartache happened in the past does not mean that it will happen again. Memories are from the past and can not hurt us now. Getting rid of those unwelcome house guests helps to free us up for a happy, unfettered future. It make us more willing to trust and more open to feeling God's love and love from others.
"Suffering can make saints of people as they learn patience, long-suffering and self-mastery." - Spencer W. Kimball
We should not purposely punish ourselves and relive our past mistakes. The Atonement of Jesus Christ tells us to make the change, realign ourselves with the gospel, and then move forward and not look back. God does not want us to continually, destructively beat ourselves up.
Repentance is not Penance
"For what doth it profit a man if a gift is bestowed upon him, and he receive not the gift? Behold, he rejoices not in that which is given unto him, neither rejoices in him who is the fiver of the gift." D&C 88:33
Christ is the giver of the gift and the gift is the Atonement. He suffered for us, not just our sins, but all of our infirmities so that we would not have to suffer if we would come unto Him.
His love can heal us.
He can help us stay present.
He can help us manage our thoughts.
He can mold us into who He needs us to be if we will just turn to Him for help.
Scripture study, prayer, and focused meditation can help us efficiently produce worthwhile thoughts that can expand with clarity and replace the multitude of ill-considered, random musings of our mind.
We must first envision our desires and then project them forth through our thoughts and our actions.
If we learn to seek the Lord's will and obey those whisperings of The Spirit that come into our minds we will be at peace.
"For by my Spirit will I enlighten them, and by my power will I make known unto the the secrets of my will- yea, even those things which eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor yet entered into the heart of man" D&C 76:10
When we are present we realize that...
- We are living under a great plan that in the end will work out for our betterment. We know that there will be bumps in the road and learning experiences, but we willing embrace those when they come because we know that they are part of God's plan for our lives and the way that He is helping us to grow into better people.
- We are patient with other people because we know that we can influence them for good, but that the change has to come internally with them. We are less judgmental and more caring as we help them use their agency correctly today
- We do not feel overwhelmed or frazzled. We focus on the most important things and do those first then we fill in with other good and uplifting activities. Our personal commitment to God comes first and then our marriage and family relationships.
- People and relationships take priority over things
- We trust that God will help bridge the gap that we never can. We do our best, but we trust in Him.
- We control our thoughts and focus on positive things that we can do and be now and we set worthwhile goals for the future.
- We actively make decisions and don't just let ourselves go on 'auto pilot'
The Future is, of all things, the thing least like eternity. It is the most temporal part of time--for the Past is frozen and no longer flows, and the Present is all lit up with eternal rays. --C.S. Lewis
I echo the words of my friend, "As stated in 2 Nephi 2:26, I choose to act for myself and not be acted upon! If I allow myself to dwell in the past or the future, Satan is acting upon me. The key word here is DWELL! I am going to learn from the past, prepare for the future, and live in the present! "