Living in the Past, Present, or Future?

We older folks are often accused of living in the past and thinking everything back then was so much better than now. I’m not one of them.

As a few of you may recall from a former blog post, I don’t seem to have nearly as many memories of my childhood and teen years as adults typically have. I attribute that, whether correctly or not, to the acute viral encephalitis that could have killed me or left me in a vegetative state, but from which God restored me to a reasonable normal condition. But one that was somewhat fuzzy about the past.

That was in the eighth grade. I wouldn’t want to relive that part of my past.

College years were fine, but not exciting. Neither was my teaching career or my years at the Maryland State Job Service as a counselor/interviewer.

Life grew more meaningful when I took some computer programming courses and went to work at the International Mission Board. Working behind the scenes of something important gave me a feeling of significance I’d never experienced before. I had some wonderful successes before I started having problems with a new job assignment.

And then I got downsized after almost nineteen years.

Those memories aren’t things to dwell on. Despite the many good moments, I’ll never think of those years as “the good old days.”

 

What about the future?

As a Christian, I’m not afraid of death, although I would love to have the assurance that the process of dying would be quick and painless…and that my wife, Kathleen, and I would die at the same time so neither of us would have to face life without the other.

But the future–at least the part where I’m still alive on earth–isn’t knowable.

I don’t have many dreams about what I’d like the future to hold. Yes, of course I’d like for my novels–some of them, anyhow–to suddenly take off and start selling. Not because I care about the income, but because I want to know they’re blessing and entertaining readers.

I can’t help wishing and hoping (yes, and praying, too) that at least one of my songs will end up in a collection of praise and worship songs. Maybe even in a hymn book!

I hate to admit it, but when I’m expecting a shipment of some tiny something-or-other from Amazon, you’d almost think I was a little kid waiting for his parents to wake up on Christmas morning so he can start opening presents.

That’s a bit weird, maybe, but that’s how I am. My future on earth doesn’t promise to be the best time of my life. Especially as my body falls apart a little more year by year. I hope and pray my mind doesn’t do the same thing.

And the present?

That leaves the present. I’ve ended up with two skills–two things I love using–I’m not able to use the way I’d like to. Yes, I’ll keep working on developing them even more, but knowing I may be doing it only for my own benefit is discouraging.

Until yesterday–or was it this morning?–I was super-frustrated at what I perceived as my lack of usefulness. I couldn’t see myself accomplishing anything, and that thought was more depressing than I’d like to think about.

It’s no wonder. Many–maybe most–of the authors I know have more book ideas running through their heads than they can use in a lifetime. I don’t.

I’d started working on a sequel to one of my teen books. I’d even designed a cover for it and written a few chapters.

But I just couldn’t get excited about it and haven’t been able to proceed. It’s not a matter of writer’s block, but of questioning whether this was what I should be doing.

You can better understand now why I was feeling useless and insignificant, at least in the areas of my life that are so important.

But I prayed, and I kept praying, and God led me back to an idea I had begun considering in January of this year. Why I set it aside then, I couldn’t tell you.

But I’ve fallen in love with it. Working on it won’t restore my losses in other areas, but I feel good again. Great!

Living in the present seems to work best, as long as I don’t totally forget the past or fail to consider the future. And when today’s present becomes the past, I’ll find something in that future time to make that present time the best.

Where do you live–past, present, or future? How about leaving a comment?

I’ll be back again next Sunday. If you’d like to receive my posts by email, go to “Follow Blog via Email” at the upper right.

Best regards,
Roger

P.S. Here’s the new cover and title for what was previously published as PROJECT MUFFINTOP.

Links you might be interested in:

 

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4 thoughts on “Living in the Past, Present, or Future?

  1. Thoughts I’ve been mulling, too, Roger. Thanks for your insight. I’ve always lived toward the future, but at the same time wondered if I were progressing in the present toward what I should be doing. Just this morning I read (reread) from a book of W. Glyn Evans (that I read through every year–great stuff in the form of devotionals). Evans suggests that frustration indicates a dissatisfaction with how God is behaving in our lives, or even rebellion. That we will always receive each day what God has determined to give us any particular day. Therefore, it is His best for that day, and to argue with it is to undermine our contentment and joy for that day. I went through a “crisis of faith” recently (Am I doing what God wants me to? Am I sitting on the shelf? Am I lazy? Who am I influencing? Et al). And I’ve come to the conclusion that I am, indeed, where God has placed me, and that I should try to measure what I’m doing, but get closer to Him, and rest in Him, and let Him take me wherever He chooses. I am content in that.
    And still looking toward the future, attempting to be faithful in the present.

    I write a weekly motivational prayer letter for my home church in another state, and retain my membership there, participating through encouragement and financial support. I am not able to get involved with a church here where I’ve lived for eight years.

    I also am awaiting the publication of a novel, which I’m self-publishing because, at my age, I don’t have time to find an agent (which can take a couple of years), then wait for the agent to find a publisher (which can take a couple of years), and then wait for the publisher to calendar the publishing (which can also take a year or two). And I still have two or three more novels in work!

    So I thank you for your words, and encourage you to find joy and hope in your daily routine, knowing God has it handled!

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    • Lois, thank you SO much for sharing that. I’m glad to know I’m not the only one struggling, and I totally understand about self-publishing because of age. Even though I’ve had novels published traditionally, I’ve gotten the rights to eleven out of twelve of them back and self-published them to have more control.

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  2. Hi, Roger! I almost didn’t leave a comment here, thinking instead I should email you privately. I was saddened you seemed depressed, but being older than you I can understand. I, too, worry and wondered about when/if my husband and or I should die first. I know our daughter will be burdened with taking care of whomever is left. I, too, am not afraid to die, but I do so want to see my grandchildren grow up – and maybe have a great grand, too. I have to, must, trust God’s plan. I saw this recently when a very dear friend, a friend who shed so much light in the world, died suddenly. I have been dealing with a broken heart and “Why, God?” for the last few weeks.

    I have to remind myself “My time is in His hands.” Hers was, too.

    Try to look to the future, Roger, your future. You, and I, are in His hands. Trust! Enjoy today.

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  3. Thank you for sharing, Bonnie. You have some specifics to look forward to which seem rather elusive for Kathleen and me right now. Fortunately, I’m not really depressed. I think it’s just that a few things were bothering me more that day than usual. I was pretty well back to normal by the time I published that post. Thank you also for your concern.

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