In fact, living in the moment is one of the hardest life lessons I’ve learned. I didn’t learn how to do it easily. It didn’t come to me naturally. And I certainly didn’t acquire the ability quickly.
It’s taken years.
Through a combination of catastrophic choices and traumatic trials, I came to believe that my life simply wasn’t going to turn out the way I’d wanted it to. And in truth, I had never had many visions of a pleasant life or goals for changing the world. After age 16, when many fundamental truths seemed disproved by my circumstances of sexual assault and the aftermath that entails, I discarded the notion that setting goals was even worthwhile. What’s the point, if someone can come along and rip your plans away from you? What’s the purpose in believing that if you do X, Y, and Z, God will bless you and work all things together for your good?
And so I allowed my past to dictate my present–and in turn, my present dictated my future. I didn’t feel worth much, and my relationship choices reflected those feelings. I dated random people temporarily to fill emotional voids, using them as crutches and stepping stones. When I finally settled into a real relationship, it was with someone who was honest with me and told me he simply didn’t feel the same about me as I felt about him or was not as sure about our relationship as I was. I chose to ignore the warning and continued to pour my heart out, perhaps in hopes that I’d change his mind. I wanted to control my own destiny. I was determined to get what I wanted, perhaps because I felt I’d been stripped of other things I’d wanted.
That didn’t work, obviously. Although I didn’t see it at the time, God proved to me through that failed relationship that I was certainly not God and that I could absolutely not control another person’s feelings. I would refuse to heed this lesson–so God taught it to me over and over and over again over the course of an entire decade. Every time I tried to control my own circumstances–whether in relationships, at work, or otherwise–He thwarted my efforts and proved relentlessly that He was God. What a bummer.
Sometimes looking back is painful. The Sirens of the past sing the saddest, sweetest songs to me about things I left behind, things that might have been different if only, and things I could have done differently to change the tune of my life.
But I’ve chosen to turn my ear to different sounds now–to sounds occurring right now, all around me, not echoes of songs from what seems like aeons ago. I finally learned the lesson He’d been attempting to teach me for so long, slowly and painfully and not without much help from others who’d learned the same lesson already.
A week ago, my husband agreed to serve on a committee at church. A few days ago, he served communion during a church service. These might seem like small, insignificant life events to some people. But to me, having watched the years of my life rot before my eyes and people I loved fall apart and disintegrate right before my eyes, these were no small moments. This was seeing someone I’d dared to trust following God. It was seeing my prayers for him answered. It was seeing the disappointments of years gone by smeared away, the slate clean.
I could almost audibly hear Him whispering to me, “I will repay you for the years the locust has eaten” (Joel 2:25).
Things I never thought possible have occurred and continue to occur in my life today. Dreams I never allowed myself to dream have come true. Hopes I lacked the faith to hope for have been realized. And it just keeps happening this way as I listen to the laughter, the words of confirmation and love, and the quiet song of awe emanating from my heart today.
This new song is all I listen to now.
The Sirens might have drowned.