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being present

Being present in a distraction-filled world

I have always wanted to be one of those carefree, spontaneous people who lives in the moment. The kind of person who adroitly bounds from one adventure to the next. Who is thrilled with change, delighted with surprises, focused solely on the here and now.

 

That will never be me.

 

I have to fight for the here and now.

I have to wrestle with myself to stay grounded in the present.

 

Because introverts have this whole other world inside their heads. We wander up there frequently without anyone noticing and spend hours getting lost in our swirling thoughts and alluring dreams.

 

In my head I have this dream of myself in the future.

I’m sitting on a wooden swing beneath a grand oak tree in my garden. Bluebells and daffodils brim over in my planter boxes. The grass has been freshly mowed and the clippings lay in messy clumps all over the lawn.

We live in this perfect, old villa with rocking chairs on the front porch and hanging baskets swinging from the awning. Our mailbox has a blue roof and our fence is white and picket.

In summer I’m always out in the garden, watering can in hand, tending to my plants. 

In autumn I sit on the porch sipping apple cinnamon-spiced tea and watching the leaves pile up in the front yard. 

 

I can get lost in this daydream and lose all sense of time.


 

See, I have a heart that is spurred on by expectation. It beats a rhythm of longing. Constantly demanding more, never satisfied with what it has.

 

I am forever at war with myself.

 

I must fight for this moment. This one right here. Sitting at my kitchen table in my dressing gown, sipping coffee. I must force myself to meander back down outside of my head and become absorbed fully in appreciating the present.

 

And I’m not the only one.

 

Our modern lives are so cluttered with distractions.

 

Billboards on every corner, notifications from every app, adverts after every second song. Multitasking has become our second nature, we don’t know how to do just the one thing anymore.

 

While eating our breakfast, we are scrolling through our emails. While walking we are listening to podcasts. While having conversations we are having entirely different ones on our phones.

 

But I miss the eye contact. The face to face conversations. The careful, handwritten letters slipped into my mailbox.

 

Everything these days is so instant and hurried. I hardly ever feel seen or understood, nobody has the time.

 

Even when we are in one place, we wish we were in another. We watch the sunset through the lens of our cameras, we live our lives to upload on our Instastories, we’ve made a sport out of collecting memories and flashing them around for everyone else to see. 

 

It feels so fake, so inauthentic, so exhausting to maintain.

 

Putting my phone down feels like a breath of fresh air. Now I hardly post on social media, it feels like I’m coming home, back to the real me. Without the pressure of a billion eyes watching me, I am free to actually live. 

 

being present in a distraction filled world, living intentionally, living in the moment, slowing down, self care, the fear of missing out, social media break, rest,

 

What I need, what we all need really, is a new pace. A slower, more deliberate way of living. An awareness of the buzz, the hustle, the impatience. A return to simpler times which were perhaps not so foolish after all.

 

It saddens me to think that some of the old, slower ways of doing things will soon be lost due to our impatience.

 

I hope my kids get to experience the joy of opening up their mailbox and finding a package waiting for them.

I hope they get the chance to trawl around a hundred different shops looking for the perfect gift rather than sitting at home filling up their online shopping cart.

I hope they will know the feeling of the worn-out pages of a much-loved paperback.

I hope they will take delight in digging up carrots from their own garden rather than reaching for plastic wrapped, pre-washed vegetables in the supermarket.

 

There is something to be said for the ease and convenience of our everyday lives, but still I hope that my children will make time for a little inconvenience.

 

Because I have found that the best conversations happen when we’ve both left our phones in our purses. The most pleasure I’ve taken from a kind note was one written out by hand and delivered to me personally. The best lemon muffin recipe I have ever found was shared with me by a friend of a friend.

 

Being present is recognizing that the here and now moments are what matter the most.

 

It’s fighting the urge to move on to the next thing while you are still doing the first. It’s saying grace before a meal, giving thanks for the one who prepared it. It’s noticing the colours of the leaves as you are walking to work. It’s falling asleep to the gentle hum of crickets outside your bedroom window.

 

Being present is choosing to let go of the past and refusing to be afraid of the future. 

 

So here’s to slowing down, finding moments of solitude in a distraction-filled world and doing our very best to enjoy the here and now.

 

There is not a whole lot in our lives that we have control over but this one thing is ours to protect. We have the choice every day to fall in love with life.

Living in the now and the endless longing for the not yet

living-in-the-now

 

Blonde curls bounce as she runs. Squealing she dashes through the park. Little toddler legs scooting as fast as they can. A flash of pink. A blur of joy.

She zigs and zags through the clusters of people. Early-morning dog walkers and men on bicycles with neon vests. She is unaware of the scene she is causing, she is focused on getting away before her father catches up to her.

And he’s getting closer. Thundering with big, lanky strides behind her. She makes several narrow escapes and then finally he reaches out and sweeps her effortlessly into his arms.

They swing around together. This mass of pink frills and blue checks. The sweetest sight.


 

My heart feels like it might burst.

I’m surprised by the physical ache. This little, hollow gap which signifies an unfulfilled dream. A longing that lies dormant, bubbling deep beneath the surface. Knocking the wind out of me when I least expect it.

 

I think that’s the way dreams tend to be. They aren’t always obvious right from the start. We don’t all grow up with the knowledge of who we are or what we want to be.

For some of us our dreams take a long time to wiggle their way to the surface. It’s a slow process but eventually these deep desires begin to bloom and once they do…we are never really the same.

 

Once we know the ache, we wrestle with discontentment.

Once we’ve found something to pursue, we cannot sit still.

 

I’ve always been a writer but I didn’t believe it. I’ve always been someone’s partner but I just haven’t found them. I’ve always been a mother but I don’t have a kid yet.

And now I know what they are, I’m so eager to reach out and snatch up each of these dreams.

 

But I’m grasping at thin air. With every prayer the answer comes back clear. Not now, not yet.  

 

My faith gets a little shaky and my heart gets a little heavy. God, If you created me with these desires why are you keeping them from me?

 

Because timing is everything.


 

The last thing I want to do is be patronizing because I know how this feels.

 

I understand the lonely road you are travelling. I see the tears that slip down your cheeks when you think nobody is watching. I know that heavy weight of expectation which rests on your shoulders making you see every day in monochrome instead of technicolour.

 

In these times I have come to recognize that the sweetest gift a person can give is empathy. Not your condescending, sympathetic advice or your most well-meaning inspirational quote.

 

The kindest medicine for a heart in longing is to simply acknowledge its’ suffering.

 

To come alongside me, rest your head on my shoulder, to take my hand in yours and let me know that you understand.

 

I recognize that this wrestle with contentment is not one I will win by force. I cannot take what I feel is rightfully mine. I must be patient.

 

Resting in the now and respecting the not yet.

 

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All of us are searching for our missing pieces, scrambling around to slot the edges together, trying to make sense of this jigsaw puzzle. Our hearts hammer as we fit together more and more, the picture becoming clearer and clearer. 

 

But this feeling is bittersweet. The more pieces we add, the less we have remaining, like sand slipping through an hourglass.

 

We have to take the time to observe each section, marveling at the intricate details, delighting in the infuriating complexities.

 

I understand now that this time is precious. All I have is now. So while I’m dreaming, hoping and longing for more, I’m watching my life slipping through that hourglass…drip…drip…drip.

 

If I’m not careful my twenties will have passed me by and I’ll have nothing but bitter regret to show for it.


 

So this lesson is absolutely necessary for us to learn. All of us. Because I know you feel it too. You want to skip to the next chapter, get to the good bits.

You want to be at the top of the corporate ladder, you want the wedding band on your finger, you want the stamps in your passport.  

 

Who of us are really content? Who of us are perfectly happy living in the now? Who of us haven’t thought of the not yet?

 

I think the longing will always be there. God in His infinite wisdom created me this way. A big gaping heart, eager for love, belonging, family. The feeling isn’t packing up it’s bags and shipping out any time soon. But when I look around I can see all the ways he has provided for me in this place.

 

My daily bread is texts from my mum, hugs from my flatmate, coffee with my cousin, cuddling my pastor’s baby, playing soccer with the neighbour’s kids, sitting side by side with friends at church.

 

It’s not the feast I want, but it’s the food I desperately need. The nutrients that will sustain me.

 

That’s the way grace is, always sufficient to meet us where we are. If He is saying not now, not yet, then I have to trust that He knows what’s best for me.

I keep my hands outstretched with abandon, giving thanks for his faithfulness thus far and eagerly anticipating his goodness in the future.


 

I’m learning the art of patience.

Because what they say is true…good things take time.

The best things happen when we aren’t looking for them.

And it’s not always about arriving at your destination, it’s the journey that actually counts.

So in those moments of frustration, I’m learning to laugh.

In the midst of disappointment, I’m learning to dance.

This is the beauty of life…the tension between the now and the not yet.

 

Fighting the fear of missing out

fighting-the-fear-of-missing-out

A few weeks ago I was fortunate to be out at the beach just as the sun was setting.

It was one of those lazy summer evenings where you are gathered around the table for hours after you’ve finished eating. Settling into the dusk and drinking in the buoyant conversation.

 

Most days the sunset is blocked by trees, hills and buildings but this particular evening we were out West with nothing but sand stretching before us. Our view was unobstructed and as we chatted away, we noticed the faint whispers of clouds suddenly flecked with sunlight.

 

We quickly raced up the hill to get a better view. But as we pulled the car into the lookout spot, the sun dipped behind clouds. We grumbled and were about to give up on the sunset but we figured we might as well stay just in case something happened.

 

The sun remained encased in clouds for a few more minutes and the coolness of the night seeped over us. But then all of a sudden, the sky was illuminated. Pink, orange, gold. Streams of blazing colour flooded the scene before us. Ocean and sky became one.

A painting streaked and blended with the utmost precision.

 

We got out our pathetic, little phone cameras and tried to capture the perfection. It didn’t seem to matter what angle I stood at or how much I decreased the exposure…the image was a poor representation of the magnificent spectacle we were witnessing.

 

As the final glow of sunlight faded into the night, I felt incredibly grateful and honored to have seen it with my own eyes.

And the overwhelming emotion I felt was relief. How lucky it was that my camera was unable to capture this perfect moment. It meant I couldn’t share it with anyone else, this experience, this brief reverie was all mine.


 

Recently, I’ve felt stretched between too many things, people and places. This need to participate in everything has drained me completely.

 

No matter where I am, I’m missing something else.  

 

If I go to one party, I have to skip another. If I talk to one friend, I don’t get to chat with another. If I say yes to one offer, another one will surely come along.

 

I want to be everywhere. I want to see everyone. I want to do it all.

 

But I can’t… and so I’m forced to make a choice. To prioritize what matters most. To be decisive for once in my life. To commit and stick with it.  And sometimes I don’t like making the choice.

 

Because sometimes duty requires me to be somewhere regardless of what my heart compels me to do. That feels especially unfair. It’s that prickling on the back of the neck I remember feeling every time my mum would ask me to help with chores. But I don’t want to…


 

If I was looking to slap a label on it, I’d say I’m suffering from the fear of missing out.

A fear that tells me that other people are having more fun.

 

I’m inadequate, my time is scarce, my friendships are insufficient. It’s a fear that breeds discontentment. Snuffing out joy and leaving an echo of emptiness. 


 

It seems to me that the cure for the fear of missing out is being fully present.

 

Soaking in the sunset, feeling the rain as it batters down on your umbrella, looking the person who you are talking to directly in the eye.

 

Because our world overlooks these things. It tells us we should always be on the search for something better. We should be selfishly seeking the next adventure and when we find it, we should post all about it.

 

We are trapped by this terrible pitfall of seeking validation and approval. Of needing to be where the party is, needing to participate in the action. Needing to obtain maximum pleasure for our greedy hearts. 

It’s such a hollow way of living. It’s superficial, flaky and unsatisfying.

 

Fighting the fear of missing out is a daily battle.

 

That need to share everything with the world. ‘Hey, look at me, look how great my life is.’  

Fight that urge.  

Be selfish with moments.  

Put down your cell phone and watch the sunset with your own eyes.  

 

It’s a beautiful thing that cameras, lenses and smartphones can’t capture some things. Rainbows, beach sunsets, birthday wishes, falling in love…because that’s the way it should be.

Some things are meant to be experienced.  To be felt rather than just seen.

 

the fear of missing out, fear, faith, self care, being present, life

 

Fighting the fear of missing out means we have to immerse ourselves in the moment. Wherever you are, be all there.

Stop scrolling, sharing and feeling like your situation is lacking. 

 

We can’t be everywhere, but we can be right here. Right now, in this moment.

 

We have to make a choice to be fully present. Because there will always be somewhere flashier you could be. There will always be someone funnier you could be talking to. But chasing those things will only leave you feeling empty.

 

We find contentment when we recognize how precious, beautiful and fleeting the moment we are in really is.

 

Take delight in the intricate, seemingly mundane details…because my friend, this is your life. Don’t blink twice or you’ll miss it.

 

Funnily enough, the fear of missing out is a self fulfilling prophecy. If you’re so afraid of missing out that you try to do it all, see it all and be it all…missing out is exactly what you’ll do.

 

So instead, let’s live intentionally. Wherever we are, let’s be all there.