October 18, 2023
As a perpetual daydreamer, I have a hard time being present.
If you’ve seen “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty” (I’m talking specifically of the classic Danny Kaye flick from 1947, though I also enjoyed the more recent Ben Stiller remake), you know the joy and headache that comes from a brain continually bouncing from one thing to the next. In the movie, it’s hard to distinguish between fantasy and reality as Walter bounces back and forth; his interpretation of his world is whimsical and nonsensical. While he may be able to endure mundane moments more than most, it isn’t because he’s actually there. In fact, he is generally anywhere but the present.
Maybe you can relate.
I would say that up till my early 30’s, life was easy enough. But then, a series of ‘outside my control’ circumstances began to overshadow my youthful bliss. With a daughter born genetically sick, and another with a substantial delay (and on top of the growing list of “adulting” factors), gradually, I realized there was greater emotional weight, pressure, and more pain than I was expecting from life. Everything in my daydreaming heart wanted to escape – if not literally running in the opposite direction, then numbing up and distracting myself from it.
The gift here is in the knowing. I’m so grateful for those closest to me (primarily my wife!) who ‘hold up the mirror’ to my life. And indeed, time teaches me there’s no escape from ‘adulting’! We all have bills to pay, radiators to repair, and hard decisions to make; stress is real, relational conflicts happen to the best of us, and we don’t always get our way.
But could there be a faithful way for us to approach all this?
What if God is looking for us to trust Him, regardless of our circumstances or happiness? What if something is to be gained by walking through pain with perseverance and joy? What if the gift of this messy and turbulent life was made more complete as we faithfully showed up to it?
These thoughts helped shape my word for 2022 – a year I knew would be very challenging as we started a new family business, purchased a new (fixer-upper!) home, and had three young kids in school for the first time. I didn’t want to flash through it and only have the occasional social media posts to show for it. I wanted to be there through the grit, sweat, tears, snot, and blood! I believe the lows of life make the highs higher somehow; a fullness of all God intended.
“Fidelity” meant something even deeper; applying my penchant for romance (the French ‘fidélité’) to the work of living fully in the moment, faithful to the task of life, not looking too far ahead – “Let your eyes look directly forward, and your gaze be straight before you.” (Prov 4:25 ESV) And not from duty – but in anticipation and out of love.
The true gag in all this – is that I can’t really remember how Walter Mitty ends! It’s been a while since I’ve seen it, sure – but I wonder if I was present enough to let the grand finale sink in – to make a memory and not only a moment.
Rate yourself on your ‘presentness,’ 0 is low and 10 is high.
How could you be more present to your life and loved ones today? What would that look and feel like?
How could you more faithfully live in your life – rather than just get through it?
Lord, by your Spirit, would you help us to see more clearly today. Help us slow down, ‘give up’ some of our control, and be present in all that life has to offer. We believe You have a purpose in everything, and we don’t want to miss any of it. We trust in Your leading, and are grateful for Your faithfulness. Amen.