Truth #8 – My past is past; my now is discipline; my future doesn’t exist.
The words of Jesus in Matthew 6:34 reinforce a reality we all know, at least intellectually:
Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.
We all recognize it’s easy to lose sight on the present when we’re focused on the future. We’ve done it enough times to notice the pattern. God’s words to the Hebrew nation reveal a similar truth about the past in Isaiah 43:18 (NIV):
Forget the former things;
do not dwell on the past.
Indeed, the past can have the same distracting power if we permit it. I had a revelation in my own life regarding the first Scripture a while back that changed how I’d see it for the rest of my life.
“I can’t lose all the weight right now, but I can eat a healthy meal right now or go to the gym right now.”
Given the context of Jesus teaching about God’s provision, I visualized God providing us a measure of grace each day that equipped us to handle what He knew we’d encounter that day. Call it energy, patience, faith, or whatever. I call it simply “grace”. Whatever it is, it’s enough or today alone, so any of the grace I expend on regurgitating the past or fretting about the future leaves me insufficiently equipped for today. It’s like refusing to wear a football helmet for the big game because you might need it for next week’s game.
While I found most of it to be vexingly hollow New Age nonsense, the book The Power of Now was spot on with its core premise. The past doesn’t exist anymore — it ended before the present. The future doesn’t exist and never will — it’s perpetually, by definition, out of reach. Only the present moment — the now — exists, and to waste the now on the then is to be a slave that never really lives.
This is rarely more apparent than it is when applied to fitness. Most people who get serious about their health do so in response to crises or conditions from the past (a heart attack, obesity, etc.) or concerns about the future (lowering cholesterol, reducing diabetic risk, etc.). Such motivations aren’t bad at all, but many people have a tendency to feel intense burdens from the past or worries about the future that infringe on the territory of the present. These interlopers are counterproductive once they do their initial work of inspiring action as they can easily lead to inaction.
How many people begin the process only to quit once they decide they’ve just gone too far to help? “I’ve been too fat for too long; I’m too old to change now.”
How many people begin the process only to quit when they think their goal is simply too far to reach? “I’ve only lost two pounds, and I think most of that was the haircut I got last week; I’ll never get there.”
The old saying “one day at a time” is an old saying for a reason. The only way to effectively make and maintain progress toward health is to do it one day at a time. As my brilliant wife put it, “I need to just focus on being an obedient steward of my body right now. I can’t lose all the weight right now, but I can eat a healthy meal right now or go to the gym right now.”
Focusing on how far you have left to go or how much inertia you have to work against from the past can have a paralyzing effect, yet remembering that your only responsibility is to properly handle this moment right now can keep you on a healthy, productive path.
By all means, have a goal set. But set a smart one (see Truth #6) and use it as a source of directional guidance rather than a win-or-lose victory line. That’s why “health” is such an ideal goal — it’s unambiguous, but it’s more than a certain number. It’s something that is achieved but it is never finalized. It’s a lifestyle (see Truth #5) that leads to a better future (see Truth #9). A goal like this doesn’t permit undue stress but it does create pressure as an impetus to action (see Truth #12).
I must focus on one day at a time, saying to myself: My past is past; my now is discipline; my future doesn’t exist.
Originally posted 2016-02-19 08:00:26.