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Wednesday, July 18, 2012

The Path to the Future Goes Through the Present...

Be Present

Last week I was out of town for work and bored out of my mind in the hotel room. I decided to take a walk at at like 9pm. As I walked, I started having a conversation with Heavenly Father (admittedly I did most of the talking…at least that I actually heard.).

Photo via flickr.com 
Courtesy of ToastedWoobie, Some Rights Reserved

  I began asking questions such as,

What is expected of me?
                                               What am I suppose to be learning? 
                                                                                                       Where am I going in my life? 
                  What am I suppose to be doing? 
                                                                                What do I have to do to be successful?

Who Better To Ask

Those are pretty strong questions, and I have been searching for the answers to those questions for quite some time.  And who better to ask than my Father in Heaven?

As I was having this conversation I received an answer.  No, I didn’t see an angel, hear a sound, or receive a scroll.  I did however have a still, small voice speak to my mind and my heart (1 Kings 19:11-12).  I had a scripture from the Book of Mormon come to mind, as well as two words.  Here’s the scripture:

“O that I were an angel and could have the wish of mine heart…But behold, I am a man, and do sin in my wish; for I ought to be content with the things which the Lord hath allotted unto me.” Alma 29:1,3

The two words were “Be Present”

The Answer

And there was the answer to all my questions.  I needed to, first, be content with where I was and what I have been given and blessed with in my life.  And second, I needed to be present.

What do I mean?

What do I mean by “Be present”? 

I mean that I needed to avoid being so discontent with my life, my job, my pay, etc that I couldn’t recognize and enjoy the vast blessings that are in front of me daily.  I couldn’t get obsessed with thoughts like

“If only I was older…”
                                               “If only I wasn’t so busy…”
                                                                                         “If only I had this or that job…”
                        "If only I made this much money…”

What I'm NOT Saying

Now at this point, let me be clear as to what I am NOT saying.  I am NOT saying that we shouldn’t plan and set goals.  And I am NOT saying that we shouldn't try to better ourselves and our position in life. 

However, by being too focused on our discontentment, we experience several unintended consequences.


When we are focused on our discontent we can experience four consequences:

1.      We can miss out on valuable lessons that we could learn and that would greatly benefit our growth, progression, and success in our personal and professional lives.

2.      We will often overlook opportunities to serve and bless those around us…including our families and close friends because we are only worried about what we don’t have.

3.      If we are too preoccupied with where we are not at in life, discouragement and frustration will overtake our thoughts, causing stress, anger, depression and all sorts of not fun feelings!

4.      Focusing on our discontent can lead to envy and covetousness.  We will look at everyone more successful than us with disdain and jealousy.  This will not help us become more success, rather it will hinder our success.

How can we “Be Present” in our lives?

1.      Be grateful for what you have.  Count your “haves” not your “have nots”

2.      Remember that there is a season and a time to everything (Eccl. 3:1)

3.      Recognize that valuable lessons  can be learned and service given here and now

4.      Be patient

5.      Have faith, in God, in yourself, in your abilities.

There is a balance we must find a balance between pushing towards our future, and not missing our present. 

I know that Heavenly Father was telling me that I need to focus more on what I have rather than what I don’t have. 

He wants us to succeed, He wants us to be happy, but His thoughts and ways are certainly higher than mine (Isa. 55:8-9) and it is not my job to argue with His plans and His timetable. 

We must always be striving to grow, progress and succeed, but the path to the future goes straight through the present, so BE PRESENT!!!

Q: How can you make sure that you don’t overlook the present in your daily life?

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  1. Contentment is something I struggle with ALL THE TIME!

    I have a friend who went so far as to define lust as "wanting more of anything for myself than God wants for me." Any time I find myself wanting more than I have, money, success, house, car, stuff, prestige, and I feel that rather than the pull of achievement that's drawing me it's the lust of wanting more than I've been granted, I have to pull back and realize that I've moved past contentment into something else. It's a hard discernment and one I have to pray about very, very often.

    Thanks, Mark -- this was a great and thought-provoking post! I'm going to be carrying it in my heart for the rest of the day at least.

  2. This is a great post! I find similar comforts through reading stoic moral philosophy, which in many ways mirrors the scripture that you cite. I recall Admiral James Stockdale talking about how closely scripture and stoicism parallel one another and your post yet again reinforces that for me. Thanks!

  3. Love, love, love this post!!!! They say that bitterness can now grow in a grateful heart. There are many days when I struggle with this too. I complain about petty things and all that I would like to have and forget to be thankful for the MANY blessings I do have. I have a loving husband who is an amazing dad, two adorable, happy and healthy kids, a great job, I live in my dream home and have many people around me who love me and let me love them back. Thanks for this reminder. I will think of it next time I wish I could get free maid service for a year!

  4. I cannot get the "reply" button to work... So thanks to each of you for taking the time to read the post!
    Bret: isn't that the struggle? Be content, but determined I improve??
    Mike: truth is truth no matter where it's found!! I'm glad you appreciated the post
    Lily: I'm sure there are cleaning services that are HOPING you wish for maid service for a year! That being said, thanks for your insight! Maintaining a big picture perspective could've probably been listed as a way to Be Present too, that's what I got from your comment!