When it comes to telling our stories, we are a people who often get lost in our yesterdays and tomorrows. It's easier to recount the past or to hope for the future than it is to be honest about today.
Most of us are fairly comfortable talking about our past. We have come to grips with our stories, figured out the way we want to tell them. We have our own spin on things that allows us to speak without necessarily touching our own lives. We can tell our stories in such a way that it gets the response that we want, or that we need. We can tell people how things used to be because we have at least some sense of how that is. And while we may not be proud of who we were, at least we know that it is what it is.
The same can be said of the future. We have learned to speak in such a way that we can almost see it coming true, even if it doesn't seem possible for us. We can speak freely, drawing people into our hope. It's our way of getting them to see what we want or need them to see in us. It's an affirmation of self before-the-fact, which is why it's so painful when someone does not latch on to our idea of what will be. They aren't affirming our dream, and they aren't affirming us. We speak about the future because we have some sense of how that is. And while it may seem mere fantasy to some, even to ourselves at times, at least we know what that is.
And that's why it's so hard to speak out of the present. We aren't really sure what this is. Is this...the past reconciling? Is this...the future developing? Is this connected at all to where we've been or where we're going or who we are at all? We don't speak so much about the present because we just don't know. And there's a certain part of us that doesn't want to take the risk that someone else might know before we do.
So we speak out of our past and our future, ignoring today. Ignoring this moment because we don't know yet where this moment fits.
Which is how, by the way, so many of us come to live in our pasts. We forsake this moment until it means something and by the time we figure out what it means, it's gone. It's part of our past, and it becomes just another moment we missed.
We're missing a lot more than just that.
We are not whatever our past says we are. We are not whatever our future dreams. The only thing you ever are is what you are in the present moment. The only thing that's real about you is this thing - this now thing. The only breath you ever draw is this one. Yeah, maybe your past says something about you and maybe your future sets the stage for something more, but this moment speaks loudest; this moment has the stage.
Living out of the present not only gives you the chance to actually be something, to be something real and not just a shadow of your past or a figment of your future, it also changes the way you talk about all that you have been and all that you will be. Speaking out of this day opens the door of grace for all of your yesterdays. You redeem your story even as you tell it; you start figuring out how all those yesterdays come to this day. You start to see how it's part of the way you're woven together. In the same way, speaking out of this day opens the window of hope for all of your tomorrows. You foreshadow your story even as you tell it, you start figuring out how tomorrow is even possible, how hope happens, how dreams become real. Your present starts to get woven into your future. Your life is coming together.
And somehow, so are you. You're coming together into more than you could ever have been, were it not for this present moment. You're becoming real. People experience you as authentic, as real. You look in the mirror and see a man you can trust because he's firmly grounded in who he is. Not who he was or who he hopes to be, but who he is. Right now. In this moment. In this breath.
It's this kind of thing we're all looking for in the world. It's this kind of man we're all drawn to - the man who knows who he is and isn't ashamed of it. The man who lives in the present because he knows it is here, and only here, where both grace and hope abound. We're instinctively drawn to this man because he has something we all want:
The past and the future don't have to pull your strings. There is a way to be a real boy. That way is to live now, in the only moment in which you ever truly are, and to know that when you let your life speak from the present, every word is a gift. It's a gift of grace. It's a gift of hope.
It's a gift of God.