I can see it on their face. It’s a look of distance, a sure sign that although they are physically right in front of me, their mind is a million miles away. I can’t be too judgmental though. We all do it at times. We all, in our busy lives, fail to live in the moment, to give our undivided attention to the task at hand or the person in front of us. We excuse it as using our time wisely or that we can’t help it. But truthfully, it’s an absence of the mind that hurts relationships and stifles contentment.
Mindlessness is not necessarily done on purpose. In fact, it’s a fault of many busy people who have so overwhelmed their lives with stuff and activities and responsibilities that they fail to know what it’s like to live in the moment. It’s a habit that’s developed and over time, it steals the joy you could experience if only we would delight in the here and now. Instead, we plot and worry about things. Decisions that have to be made. Tasks that need completing. Our minds are free and with freedom comes great responsibility.
Our minds have the freedom to wander while our bodies must operate in the present situation we are in. It’s wonderful that our minds are capable of processing all the information that they do, but a wandering mind is an absent mind. For the Christian, mindfulness is essential to live in the peace God so desperately wants us to have. Our marriages are more rewarding when our mind is focused on our spouse. Our work is more fruitful when we dedicate our minds to the task at hand. Our ministry is more effective when our thoughts are centered on God.
All of this sounds wonderful, and indeed it is, but how exactly do we become more mindful? With all the distractions in our complicated, busy lives, how do we learn to live in the present and find contentment with what is right in front of us? The words of James ring especially true:
“Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit”— yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes.”
It’s so easy to treat our lives as if they will last forever. In reality, our life is very short. We cannot make up for lost time later on when we’re not even promised a “later on.” That conversation you’re having with your husband needs your undivided attention. Your child actually needs you to pull your mind away from work and give them your focus and love. The friend you’ve neglected needs to hear your voice and know you care about him or her. Tomorrow is not promised and now may be your only time.
Living in the present requires that we trust God.
If we are worried about the future or regretful of the past, our present is stolen away from us before we ever have a chance to enjoy it.
“Do not be anxious about your life. Which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? (Matthew 6:25a, 27). Being mindful means giving God the disappointment of our past, by trusting him with our future and by taking pleasure in Him, our loved ones, and our surroundings in the present.
We have the ultimate freedom to set our minds on what we want to think. “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind” (Romans 12:2a). The world tells us our minds must be busy. The world teaches that multitasking is the only way to accomplish things. But God teaches a different way. He wants us to control our minds, to delight in the blessings he has given us. Doing so is a great way to show thanks for his goodness and provision.