I remember that summer evening of 2011 in a small restaurant in Wuhan vividly. I was with my team. We were in that city for scouting the possibility of opening a new branch there.
I’d planned to go on a mission trip to Japan that summer, something I’d been looking forward to since the beginning of the year. My leader later asked me to go with another team to France instead. Out of obedience, I changed my plan and applied for a visa to France. However, my visa application got rejected.
Confused and disappointed, I had to take plan B to go with the rest of the team travelling through several cites inside China.
Now I sat at the restaurant with my team, feeling frantic and distant in a land of “wishes”. I wished to be somewhere else and doing something else. I didn’t have an appetite.
My friend asked me if I was ok. Grateful for his caring tone, I answered I was not feeling well but would be fine.
I put my head on the back of my hands against the table. Others were chitchatting, waiting for the food to arrive. I felt incredibly bored and angst, so I asked God for help.
Then, I heard God say to me: “I wanted you to be here. Be present with these people now.” Surprised by this revelation, I sat up, changed my attitude, and started to join the ongoing conversation at the table.
Since there was no way to be in Tokyo or Paris or any other places now, I might as well be fully here with these precious people.
The rest of that night shifted to a delightful memory.
It was the first time I experienced the power of being present, even though my deeply unsatisfied heart was trying to pull me to hundreds of other directions.
Being present leaves no room to worry for the future
“God weaves eternity into our minutes. Every day, he is creating minute after minute, and he hands us the grace we need for each one as they come. Worry and anxiety show up when we try to rush ahead into the minutes that haven’t been made yet.” — Emily P Freeman, A Million Little Ways
I love this quote. When we fully engage, paying attention to the surroundings, the task in front of us and the people, this moment is our life in a nutshell. How we spend our moment is how we spend our life.
Perhaps you have some unmade decisions lingering in your mind, a new job to find to pay the bills, a sink of dirty dishes to wash and a bathroom to clean, but they are not the content framed in this moment. They should wait for their moment to come when you get to them according to your schedule. Yes, schedule them in your agenda. What gets scheduled gets done. However, you need only take care of what contains in this moment, wholeheartedly. As you live intentionally moment after moment, you leave no room to worry for the future. And you will be amazed by how freeing and life-giving each moment is.
Being present cultivates gratitude
I sit in my sturdy sofa-chair, holding a cup of freshly made coffee. We recently switched the ground coffee brand to a famous Swiss one Mövenpick which gave a more intense aroma and better taste.
Wrapped in a big scarf, I sip my coffee, take a deep breath and sink in my sofa. The opening window gives way to the cold fresh air to my quiet bedroom. A pot of Peace Lili is standing tall by my bed, adding vibrant colour to this winter morning. I’m fully present in this pleasant moment, and as a result, I start to give thanks to God— my coffee, this space, my health, my family’s health, room plant and the sofa.
Being present and engaged in the current moment, we notice small beautiful things otherwise often overlooked. When we realise how much we’ve been blessed, the feeling of gratitude wells up inside because of it. And the gift of gratitude will make us a better version of ourselves.
“In positive psychology research, gratitude is strongly and consistently associated with greater happiness. Gratitude helps people feel more positive emotions, relish good experiences, improve their health, deal with adversity, and build strong relationships.” (source)
Being present is your purpose here and now
“Find and live your life purpose” has become a trendy saying these days, as if our purpose is in some mystical, faraway land.
However, I’ve learned that the fabric we are given to weave our life is measured in time, in each second, minute, hour, and day. Therefore, where else we are to look for our purpose if it’s not in the moment we have now?
Because my appreciation for Mövenpick coffee, I curiously googled them and found these words on the Home page: “We want to do ordinary things exceptionally well. After all, it’s the little things that make life worth living. We invite people to enjoy these precious little moments with us. At home, out and about, or on holiday.”
I smiled. “Do ordinary things exceptionally well.” How brilliant! Isn’t it precisely the purpose in each moment? Steward this ordinary moment exceptionally well, whether it’s changing your child’s diaper, making dinner, writing an essay, or serving your client. You are here and now for a reason. Your entire presence and attention are needed.
Being present helps to create a future you love
I couldn’t agree more with what Joanna Gaines elegantly articulated:
“Our life’s purpose is not a one-stop arrival. It is worked out along the way. The journey itself is the most essential part because that’s where the endless choices exist that lead us to where we’re going and the story we’re going to tell with our lives.” (Magnolia Journal Issue No.14 The Purpose of Today)
When we choose to be present in this circumstance, ideal or not, and give our best shot anyway, we are moving in the trajectory towards our best possible future. Do you recognise how much power you have in being present? You are literally designing your future, brick by brick ( moment by moment), with the attitude of your choice.
We make our life count by fully showing up for this sick child, this task, this friend, this client or the wellbeing of ourselves. Instead of mindlessly letting seconds and minutes pass by in a whirlwind of hurry or discontentment, making nothing out of it, we act as the faithful servants, redeeming the time for the glory of God by being fully awake and alive.
Now, I’m going to make myself another cup of coffee. 🙂