Several years ago, while I was in the midst of the most challenging project in my career, I was thrust into watching my best friend, and spouse, battle cancer*. Needless to say, my managers were very supportive in allowing me to take whatever time was necessary to care for my wife, the project schedule had no such sympathy. As the battle against cancer wore on and the pressure to meet an ever increasing unrealistic schedule (known as scope creep in the engineering world), both started to cause a little, okay…a lot, of stress, frustration, discouragement and depression. When I finally went in to see my doctor he was not surprised to see me but wondered why it took so long to come in for help. The world of the caregiver is extremely stressful and mostly unseen. The family and friends are focused on the person doing battle with cancer. Only someone who has been in the position of a caregiver will ask how you are holding up? Several people, including my doctor, referred to me as stoic during this period of life.
During the early part of my treatment for a combination of post traumatic stress and depression, I was introduced to the subject of mindfulness. The fact that it came out of the teachings of Buddhism was a hurdle I would have to overcome since I am a Christian. As I read through a book titled Full Catastrophe Living by Jon Kabat-Zinn, which at the time described my life, I found that the subject matter and concepts could also be found in the Bible. One of my favorite Bible passages addressed the very subject of worry and being in the moment. In context it is found in Matthew 6:25-34 but the real message is found summed up in verse 34 – Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.
I have learned from experience that when I study a new subject my brain is usually overwhelmed with the new information. As time goes on I start applying the concepts little by little. Then I go back and read the dog eared pages to refresh my mind of other aspects that I can apply. After awhile I look back and suddenly realize that it has started to become a part of my being. Living in the moment has taken a lot of practice and I have yet to master being able to control where my thoughts go. This concept seems so easy but for a person who worries about what could happen and ruminates on what could have been done different, it is a constant battle of the mind. So far my learning to live in the moment has taken four years to see it finally start to click (I’m a slow but thorough learner). I have several true friends who have stepped in to help me along the way by reminding me to only work on the things I can control.
Yesterday is gone. Tomorrow has not yet come. Focus on today. Be in the moment.
Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
And lean not on your own understanding;
In all your ways acknowledge Him,
And He shall direct your paths.
* – 7 months after this post was written, my wife filed for divorce.