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by Rocky Glenn

Enjoying the moment is a personal choice a person makes to be present in what they are currently experiencing and to give that specific point in time their full self. It’s a decision to open oneself up to be vulnerable and a realization the moment may or may not go as we desire. How I treat the one standing in front of me at any given time is also how I decide to enjoy the moment. To not live in the moment is live a life distracted. Distractions keep us from being present and enjoying the moments we live. A distraction is anything which keeps a person from giving their full attention to something else.

The Distraction of Regret

All of us experience things in our lives we wish had not happened or we would have handled differently if given another opportunity. These things range from decisions we’ve made which caused unforeseeable, maybe harmful, outcomes to decisions others have made which had adverse, negative, and possibly even devastating, effects on our lives. Regret imprisons us when we live focused on the “what ifs” and “what could have beens” of those decisions. Replaying scenarios repeatedly in the theater of our mind, we fixate on every aspect of those situations reliving the pain, hurt, anger, and sorrow as if it had just happened. If the consequences are of our own making, we feel we deserve whatever negative results have occurred and wallow in the misery of our shame much like the prodigal son in the hog pen. However, when forced to accept another’s decision we believe is simply outrageous or unfair, we respond much like the prodigal’s older brother. I believe his response of anger to the celebration of his brother’s quickly turned to sorrow and regret with the realization he already had access to everything he was working to attain. Resisting the distraction of regret is not refusing to admit sorrow and remorse for what may have happened, it’s a refusal to remain in that moment and let it define who you are. We must let the past make us wiser, stronger, and grateful for what we have lived through and experience. Regret gives way to self-loathing and bitterness and steals you from the life happening right before your eyes.

The Distraction of What’s to Come

The last four to six weeks prior to reflecting on and sharing about enjoying the moment were a trying and frustrating time as I wondered what lie ahead. Since I no longer have the desire to one day be a worship pastor, what does the future hold? I didn’t begin the blog with aspirations I would one day write full-time, but is it now something to consider? Are there opportunities yet to be discovered which would allow more time for ministry and still support the family? Do I even want to be involved in a ministry at all? What exactly does ministry look like now anyway? Is there an opportunity ahead which would allow Shannon and me to spend more time together helping others while providing an income as well? If those opportunities presented themselves would I be willing to take the risks to make them succeed?

All these questions swirling in my head created a cloudy fog I had trouble navigating. Fatigue and restlessness plagued me as I just could not let go of figuring out what the future holds. Questions swirled in my head like a tornado waking up to start the day, sitting at my desk at work, spending time with the family, working out at the gym, and drifting to sleep at night. The distraction of what’s to come kept me from enjoying my everyday life and, no doubt, caused me to miss small moments of awe and wonder which occurred in daily interactions with coworkers, family, and friends.  I was so caught up in determining a destination, I was forgetting to enjoy the journey. While on vacation, in finishing a book I have been struggling to complete since January, I stumbled upon the prayer below from Thomas Merton in the closing pages:

“My Lord God, I have no idea where I am going. I do not see the road ahead of me. I cannot know for certain where it will end. Nor do I really know myself, and the fact that I think that I am following your will does not mean that I am actually doing so. But I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you. And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing. I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire. And I know that if I do this you will lead me by the right road, though I may know nothing about it. Therefore will I trust you always, though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death. I will not fear, for you are ever with me, and you will never leave me to face my perils alone.”

This prayer changed my thinking and reminded me I don’t need to know what lies or even have an idea of where I’m going. I simply needed to rest in the moment and satisfaction of my desire to please my Father and His full knowledge of my desire and willingness to lead me. It brought me to a point of consciously reminding myself to live and experience whatever moment I find myself in. I can remember very vividly afternoons spent in the ocean with my family thinking, “Nothing matters right now except the fact I am here with them and we are together. What’s for dinner is not important. The drive home in a few days does not matter. What may be happening at work right now is not important. I am here with my family getting battered by waves in the ocean, having water gun fights in the pool, and we are having the time of our lives.” After reading that prayer, making it my own, and making a mental decision to enjoy the moment, I can say this was quite honestly the best vacation we may have possibly ever had.

There’s one final distraction I want to discuss, but, due to the nature of the distraction and how it relates to the churchboy, I will hold it for my next post.

Until then, I leave you with the following reminders:

Regarding Regret: In the Broadway musical Rent, composer Jonathan Larson urges us, “Forget regret, or life is yours to miss,”

Regarding What’s to Come: In Switchfoot’s opening track of their Native Tongue album, we are implored to Let It Happen:

Let it happen, let it happen

Tomorrow knows what tomorrow knows

You can’t make it get here sooner

Let it happen, let it happen

I don’t hold what the future holds

But I know you’re my future

Rocky

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by Rocky Glenn

An unexpected adventure found on a long night’s journey to observe the super moon although the intended destination was never reached, the unforgettable sensation of chills running down my arms when voices unite bringing the musical arrangements of my first Easter cantata to life, losing track of time when my newborn son opened his eyes and stared into mine as I spoke, the sweet contentment of my baby girl sitting on my lap while her favorite Disney princesses ice skate right by us, gazing into my wife’s eyes on our wedding day as I serenade her with a song written specially for the day . . .

Some of life’s greatest treasures are simply the moments we hold in our heart and reflect on, better known as memories. Memories are moments of time which made a mental impression upon us. At the time the impression is formed, we likely do not realize the images, emotions, sights, and sounds which are being recorded. Memories aren’t something you can force to happen. They form naturally and spontaneously with nearly no conscious effort on our part. Memories are formed when we learn to enjoy the moment.

Enjoying the moment can take many forms and does not necessarily mean a time of happiness, giddiness, and laughter. For the marching band students from my previous post, the director’s admonition to enjoy the moment certainly did not authorize them to be frivolous and silly during their performance. His words served as a reminder and encouragement to simply say, “You’ve prepared. You’ve put in the blood, sweat, and tears required to get you here. Now, relax, give it all your all and do what you know to do.” He was telling them to be present in this moment and experience it as it happens with joy, pleasure, and satisfaction.

To better understand this concept, it’s important to know the difference between happiness and joy. Though similar, the two emotions differ based on their source and where they originate. Happiness relies on external factors such as circumstances, events, and even other people. Happiness can be fleeting: here one moment, gone the next. Joy is lasting and is found internally. It resides in controlling what you can and letting go of what you can’t. Joy comes in knowing who you are and accepting who you are. Defined biblically, joy simply means a calm delight. This is the message the band director was trying to convey. Remain calm and delight in this moment and the memory will form itself.

Despite the moments listed above, some memories do not become enjoyable until we view them in the future as reflections of the past. To label those moments as bad memories is a disservice. I believe this is where the pleasure and satisfaction part of enjoying the moment applies. Even in times of unhappiness, pain, and sorrow, it’s possible to reside in a state of calm delight. No one enjoys times of loss and suffering, yet during those times some of our most treasured memories are formed. I was five years old when I lost my grandfather in South Carolina, yet no one will ever be able to steal the moment I crawled up on his hospital bed and kissed him on the cheek and said, “I love you, Papa,” for the final time although he was already gone. Twenty-seven years later I stood beside my mother in the emergency room as we now said goodbye to her dad, and he drew his final breath. Those moments were crushing and heart-breaking to live through but looking back I value each of those moments as both honored and sacred moments.

If I’m being honest, since I set out on this path a couple of weeks ago of examining what it means to enjoy the moment, I have encountered just as many moments I wished to run away from as I sought to enjoy. On many occasions I’ve neglected the notion of being present in the moment as I’ve longed for an escape. I will share more about that next time as I discuss why we don’t often enjoy the moment and what keeps us from doing so. In the meantime, I encourage you to take time to read this tale from three years ago of my family’s experience of attempting to enjoy the journey of going on vacation.

Rocky

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