Because we live in the present, not the past

There are a lot of things I want to make sure I avoid doing in life so that I can truly be the kind of person I hope to be.

And that includes not living in the past.

Memories are sometimes wonderful, and they are also sometimes very painful. Either way, they are events that already happened, and we can never go back to those exact moments in our lives—we can’t make the great ones happen all over again just as they did, and we can’t erase those hurtful instances that we wish had never occurred and now live in our minds and hearts forever.

There are some things about my past that I don’t like to talk about or think about too often (or at all, actually), but I recently was asked to share my story with my community group at church, and what I didn’t want to resurface is part of my story and has helped mold me into the person I am today. And, while it’s OK to talk about memories—whether they are filled with joy or full of heartache—I think it’s much more important to live in the moments you have now and not dwell on those you can never get back.

This has been a big focus for me lately because I feel like I’ve started a completely new life, which I guess I kind of have in a way. Moving to California wasn’t something I was expecting to do, and I left my entire life and all of my people back in Dallas. I’m not going to lie—when I first moved out here, it was pretty tough. If you had asked me a month or two ago, I would have said I’m absolutely moving back to Dallas as soon as my lease is up in the fall. One year would be plenty.

Like Elsa said, “the past is in the past.” My present involves sitting on lifeguard towers by the ocean, and I’m happy about that.

But now I feel settled and at home, and I’ve really started to get connected at my church and with a community of people around me. I get to lead a small group of high school girls each Sunday night, I tutor high school kids on Wednesdays after work, I’m plugged in to a community group, I’ve made friends through flag football, and I even found a solid group of girls I’m able to run with on Monday evenings. I’ve grown to love this place and the people in it.

Sure, I still love Dallas and all of my people there, but I’ve learned that I can’t live there when I don’t actually live there. For a while right after the move, I kept having FOMO (it’s SO real, people) about so much that was going on with my friends and at my old job, and I wondered if I had made a huge mistake by leaving it all behind.

But then I remembered that God called me out here—and He doesn’t make mistakes.

I’m still able to FaceTime with my family members and have phone dates with my friends, but I can’t be at all of the events they are and be part of all of the memories they’re making without me. And that’s OK. I’m in California now, and I’m surrounded by beauty all around me, including new friendships and opportunities—and this is where I need to be. You truly can’t be two places at once (if you don’t believe me, ask Cory Matthews or Fred Flintstone), and it’s silly to try. Besides, how can you genuinely enjoy where you are and what you’re doing if you’re not actually completely present?

I’ve also had to remind myself about this more than once lately when it comes to those painful feelings that result from a broken heart. What happened happened, and there’s nothing I can do about it now. I can’t change anything I said (although I don’t regret pouring out my heart, even if it was scary and didn’t end the way romcoms do), and I certainly can’t change anything he said or did—or didn’t say or do.

But I can change my heartset now (I can’t remember if I told y’all about the word I made up—or maybe other people say it, too—for people who tend to think with their hearts more than their minds). I can still have hope that I won’t experience heartache for the rest of my life, and I can still have hope that one day I will find someone who loves me for the person I am and doesn’t want to chase after other things, instead.

In our own ways, we all have brokenness, and we may have things from our pasts that we don’t like to think about or maybe don’t even want other people to know. And we also probably all have some really great recollections in our lives that we wish we could hold onto forever and maybe even be in those moments again (think Uncle Rico in Napoleon Dynamite).

We are where we are for reasons we may or may not know right now (or ever, maybe), but I fully know in my heart that everything happens with purpose. Each moment you have is special in that you will never get it back. Whether it hurts to the point of making you ugly cry or brings so much happiness to your heart that you can hardly contain your joyful feelings, you’ll never have that same moment again. You don’t need to go back to it over and over again. You don’t need to keep hoping it will return and last forever. You don’t need to beat yourself up and constantly wish that it had never happened. You don’t need to let it hold you back from doing the things you know you’re meant to do. You simply need to be fully where you are now—be present in your present.

It’s the only way you’ll do anything worth remembering someday.

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