How To Live Fully Present

One morning last week I drove right past my son’s bus stop. 

My mind was already racing with the events of the day. There was a project I absolutely needed to finish at work, an important email I needed to craft, some texts I needed to respond to, and I couldn’t forget to run to the grocery store after work so dinner wouldn’t be a complete flop. And, wait–did I remember to feed the dog before heading out the door?

A voice from the backseat interrupted my thoughts. “Uh, Mom? Aren’t you going to drop me off?”

As I quickly pulled the van over to the side of the road, I gave him a sheepish smile through the rearview mirror. I’m not sure he heard my half-hearted “have a great day” before he climbed out and sauntered back to his bus stop. 

Pulling the van back onto the road, I sensed God’s gentle reminder to be fully present. This wasn’t the first time I needed to be reminded (and probably won’t be the last), but I determined again to live in the present. 

You see, the gift of God’s presence is experienced only in the present, and we miss the beauty of the present when our minds are elsewhere. Distraction pushes us into the past with all it’s regrets or it pulls us into the future with all it’s worries. Living anywhere but the here and now robs us of the blessing of this moment. The place where heaven meets earth–where the divine interrupts the ordinary–is the place where we are changed. In His abundant grace, Jesus meets us right where we are. And we don’t want to miss Him. 

If you, like me, need a reminder to live fully present, here are three ways to be intentional:

  1. Keep your thoughts in the present. Don’t allow your thoughts to pull you in the past or push you into tomorrow. Scripture tells us to forget the former things. (Isa. 43:18-19). God is always doing a new thing in the present moment, and when we are stuck in the past, we miss His current activity. Scripture also tells us not to be anxious about tomorrow (Matt. 6:24). Prepare and plan for tomorrow–yes–but don’t worry about it. Don’t allow your thoughts to swirl anxiously about scenarios that may never happen. Keep your thoughts in the present. 
  2. Engage with the people in front of you. Far too often we are busy communicating with people on our devices, while ignoring the ones we are with. Face-to-face conversations with people in your life are far too precious to miss. Be intentional about engaging with the people you interact with each day. 
  3. Look for things in this present moment you are grateful for. Gratitude grounds us in the present. When we intentionally search for things to be thankful for, we bring our thoughts back to our real lives on this ordinary day and joy begins to bubble up within us. Thankfulness keeps us fully present. 

The next morning, as we pulled out of the driveway, I turned to my son and told him I was proud of him for the exam mark he had just received. And with that one simple comment, I chose to begin again and to use that short three-minute drive to the bus stop to engage in conversation. Fully present. Fully engaged. Fully aware of God’s presence and goodness. 

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