I am working on being present.
So often I find myself staring at one of my children. Take Matthias for example. I could be looking right at him, watching his little mouth move. It’s likely that he is telling me about a new species of six-legged, mountain-dwelling dragon that he has invented, because he’s quite clever about these things, and I could be nodding my head and saying “cool, buddy, good idea,” and listening to him. But it would be the kind of listening that only lasts for a second. In one ear and out the other, as they say. Sometimes I feel impatient, waiting for him to finish his story so I can move on to dinner, or that phone call I need to make, or even a show I want to finish watching. Or maybe I’m supervising my daughter Kinsey with the watercolor paints, but working on a grocery list, and only half paying attention when she says “Mumma paint me bubbafly?” Hans reads us all a chapter of a book before the kids go to bed every night, and so often I find that he finishes up, puts the book away, and I couldn’t tell you what he’d just read if my coffee depended on it. It’s the same when I pray; sometimes my mind just drifts off to other things I should be doing.
Why the lack of total recall? Why the feeling of pressure, pressure, pressure all the time? Why the constant inability to focus on one thing at a time?
It’s because I’m always thinking of the question that I think so many people get stuck on, WHATCOMESNEXT?!?!?
I am not advocating that we give up on the practice of planning ahead, making goals, thinking about the future. Certainly those are good things, and are encouraged scripturally. (Being good stewards of our time, working hard, sowing crops…) But I think I, for one, could afford to live a little more in the moment.
I’ve recently learned about the words ‘chronos’ and ‘kairos.’ Do you know them? They are Greek words, ‘chronos’ referring to the passage of time, from past through the present and into the future, measured by minutes, hours, days, etc. ‘Kairos’ also means time, but not in the way that we think of it typically. It has more of a feeling of “moments,” a God-given moment, a moment heavy with choice or meaning, the “perfect” moment for a particular thing to happen. It might take me three minutes of ‘chronos’ time to listen to Matthias tell me about his dragons. But in terms of kairos, that time is priceless. I am building up my child, forming a bond with him that will help him feel creative, empowered, important, and heard. I want my children to grow up feeling like they can talk to me about anything. And be heard. Really, really heard.
And since I’ve been focusing on this new endeavor of being present in the moment I’m in, you know what’s happened? Not only are my children happier, but my anxiety level is wayyyy low. I am happier. I am more at peace.
The Bible has plenty to say about this. Matthew 6:27 says “Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?” 34: “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” So if I am thinking about having to get to a particular task or thought while I am not listening to the dragon story or painting a butterfly or praying for a friend, it is taking up the chronos time twice over–the time when I’m thinking about doing/thinking it and the time after that when I’m actually doing/thinking it. Worrying about it and thinking WHATCOMESNEXT?!?!? is robbing me of my chronos AND my kairos, and I can’t afford to lose both.
My kairos, my time with my husband and my children, my prayer time, the time it might take me to put my own agenda aside for a minute or three or twenty or a day, to be the hands and feet and ears of Christ, is invaluable, precious, irreplaceable. I’m not promised the moments ahead, only these ones. And when I am in them, and I mean really, completely all in, I can see, without a doubt or a worry, how numbered they are, and how beautiful.