On Wednesday, July 21, I woke up with a sense of anticipation. I was going to spend the afternoon with a dear friend whom I hadn’t seen since February. We’d talked on the phone often, but because of the pandemic, we hadn’t been able to get together in person for months. Our plan was to go thrift store shopping, something we have enjoyed occasionally ever since we met 4 years ago. We spent 3 hours together that Wednesday, joking and laughing and just enjoying each other’s company. When she parked in front of my house, we sat and talked a little longer. I remember telling her how much I valued our friendship as we hugged. We made plans to get together again soon.
Two days later she began experiencing COVID symptoms and by that Sunday she was admitted to the hospital, struggling to breathe. And now, after being in ICU for 7 weeks and on a ventilator for 5 weeks, she is fighting for her life. Last week she had a stoke and underwent emergency brain surgery in the middle of the night. Though the surgery accomplished what they hoped it would, we may not know for many weeks what her quality of life will be in the future.
In another completely different example, I remember a day almost 2 years ago when I stood in the middle of a family gathering and hugged one of my sons. I remember his arms around me as I told him I loved him. Two days later, he would completely cut off communication with my husband and I. That relationship has not yet been restored but I pray daily for healing and reconciliation. But again, just like the situation with my friend who is still in ICU, only God knows the future.
I don’t share these things to make you feel sorry for me and the struggles these events have caused. I share them because I want to encourage you to make a conscious decision to be present in the moments of life because we don’t know the future. I don’t always make that decision, but sometimes I get it right. In both instances I just shared, I was fully present in the moment, I gave and received hugs and words of love and life. When the hard times hit, I had those moments to look back on. I have memories of when life was good and not hard.
We need to slow down and be intentional about our relationships with those we love because we just don’t know what might be different when we wake up tomorrow. The challenge to be fully present isn’t an easy one. It means we must learn to stop thinking about the “next thing” and focus on what is happening right now. If we’re honest with ourselves, we all can admit that we miss so much of life because we focus too far ahead. We are too driven by our schedules and our responsibilities to, “stop and smell the roses.”
So try something today. Try to be fully present and really see the world around you, the people you interact with, and the moments that want to just slip by without notice. Make today the day you begin to notice.
“Pay careful attention, then, to how you walk — not as unwise people but as wise — making the most of the time, because the days are evil.” – Ephesians 5:15-16 (CSB)
“Finally brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable—if there is any moral excellence and if there is anything praiseworthy—dwell on these things.” – Philippians 4:8(CSB)