A friend once told me, “When you worry to cease to exist.”
Now, I realize that’s a crazy statement…or like something Yoda would say, or you might find in a fortune cookie. But when you stop to think about it, you’ll figure out what my friend said is actually so true.
Here’s why: when we worry, we dwell on the past and fret over mistakes we or other people have made, or we cast our minds into the future and stress out over what’s coming down the line. Now, re-read that sentence, and tell me – what time frame is missing?
You see, when we spend all our time dwelling on the past or worrying about the future, we cease to exist in the here and now.
So what’s the key to living in the present? It’s the same key as beating worry and anxiety: knowing we are all in process.
Living in the process is the key to living in the present.
When I say we’re all in process, I mean that not only are we not what we used to be…We’re not yet what we’re going to be. All of us have pasts that cling to us in different ways, but we’re not defined by where we’ve been. In the same way, we’re all growing and changing, and who we’re going to be ten years from now is different than who we are today….Being in process doesn’t mean something is wrong with you – on the contrary, it’s how each and every one of us is living in the world, all the time!
Once we realize that being in process is normal, we can stop worrying and live in the present because we realize all our frustrations with our current state in life are temporary pieces of the process.
The beautiful thing for followers of Jesus is we’re never in process alone. All of us are on journeys with Jesus, and we’re all at different points in those journeys. But Jesus is working out the kinks in each of us, and we can trust him.
I’m reminded of Philippians 1: “He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus” (verse 6). That means, God has already begun a good process of growth in you, and he won’t stop until Jesus returns and we all meet him face-to-face! We can trust him to do his work in us, in his perfect timing.
In order to continue to grow and to let Jesus take charge of the process in our lives, we need to press into humility. Growth, especially spiritual growth, involves the pain of brokenness and humility. That’s because to grow, you need to dethrone yourself and place Jesus in His rightful place as king in your heart. When Jesus is king (and we are not), God can and will use everything to show us where He is growing us up.
Let’s shoot it straight here: we don’t like being dethroned! Writer and theologian A. W. Tozer said, in effect, “In every person’s heart there is a throne and a cross. And we want to keep Jesus on the cross so we can stay on the throne. But the Christian life is letting Jesus on the throne while we take the cross.” Ain’t that the truth?! But growth comes when we remember that we don’t know everything or do everything right.
And what’s amazing is God’s grace doesn’t hold our growing edges against us. So if God allows us to be in process (and even loves that we are!), then we can stop worrying, rest, and delight in being in process too.