Footsteps in Faith: Find serenity by enjoying the here and now, says chaplain

| September 16, 2016 | 0 Comments

Footsteps in FaithChaplain (Capt.) C. W. Olson III
2nd Squadron, 6th Cavalry Regiment
25th Combat Aviation Brigade
25th Infantry Division
What are the greatest enemies we face today? Is it other countries, ISIS or financial uncertainty? Is it a political system, terrorism or the outbreak of Zika?

The greatest enemies we face today are the future worries of tomorrow and the past regrets of yesterday. These two things constantly pull us out of the moment and immobilize us with fear, anxiety or depression.

The past sometimes reminds us that we have failed, or should have, could have, ought to have done something different. We think over and over in our minds, “I should have said this, or if I only had done that I would not be here where I am now.”

How much pain and depression is caused each day by the unalterable past? What we need is always right where we are in the here and now.

If the past is not filling us with regret, it is reminding us of how good it once was. Nostalgia, like a drug, can create a sense of euphoria mixed with a discontent for the present moment. The more we look to the past with rose-colored glasses, the more restless we become in the moment. Yet, what we are looking for is always right where we are in the here and now.

One of the most detrimental things to our daily peace and joy is blame and resentment. It has been said, “The past is past, and we have to get past it.” Beware today of how yesterday is trying to steal your joy and be fully present in the moment.

If we are not getting stuck in the past, we are being pulled into the uncertain future. In a recent article I read about anxiety and worry, it reported that people spend 2 hours and 15 minutes every day worrying. That is 6.5 years of nonstop agitation.
The topics people reported worrying about were money, health, the world and relationships. However, when we spend our day worrying about tomorrow, we are not really present in the moment.

It begins like a snowball, maybe a small worry here and there, and then it gets bigger and bigger, and before we know it, we are spending two or more hours every day worrying about something that may never come true. As a result, we lose our joy and peace in the moment.

We often think tomorrow may hold the answer to a better today – that if we could just go somewhere else and do something different, life would be so much better. After being deployed to a combat zone twice, I can resonate with this feeling. I know what it is like to desperately want to be in the future and not in the present moment, because the present had me in Iraq or Afghanistan.

It was at this moment, when I wanted so desperately to be out of the moment, that I realized everything I was looking for was right in front of me in the here and now. Although I was walking through the darkest valley of my life, I found peace in the moment. I came to a new awareness of God’s presence in the present moment. I found that happiness happens today, joy is experienced today and peace comes alive today.

So where are you today? Are you fully living each moment in the present, or are you daily getting pulled into the past with regrets, nostalgia and resentment. Maybe it is the future that is attempting to destroy your day with worry, fear or a longing for something better?

If you find yourself getting pulled in yesterday or tomorrow, remember the words of Kun Fu Panda: “Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery and today is a gift, and that is why it is called the present.”
(Editor’s note: Olson is the squadron chaplain of 2-6th Cav.)

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