When I heard her voice for the first time, it was as if everything stopped. My pain became mere background noise and the only thing I could hear was the sound of my baby’s voice. Although she’s less than 2 weeks old, she is already teaching us a valuable lesson: the importance of pausing to be fully present for the moment.
To pause and be fully present is to be mindful of each moment, taking in every present detail without the baggage of the past or the burden of the future. It is the practice of enjoying what is right in front of us, without looking back on what was or anticipating what will be. It is the art of letting go of all that tries to push us back or drive us forward in order to be still and present right where we are.
Like my newborn, we are all birthed into this mindfulness simply because we don’t know anything else. We are fully present as infants, completely unfazed by life’s distractions. Yet, as we develop, we are gradually made aware of the pressure to do more, be more and produce more without settling for the slower, seemingly lesser life. In our pursuit of happiness, we allow work, family, friends and even our own desires to take over our minds.
Whether consciously or subconsciously, we have become distracted by the steady pace of life, keeping us from resting in the moment and being present for what is happening right now. Our stressful and overloaded days leave very little room for pressing pause and simply enjoying what each day brings. As a result, we often miss the blessings that God brings our way.
The good news is that Christ seeks to redeem our busy, hectic lives. Throughout the Scriptures, Jesus demonstrates for us what it means to pause and be present. While life around him teemed with steady motion, demands and activity, Jesus regularly practiced the discipline of pausing and being present with God and with those around him. Although he was faced with pressure to perform miracles, Jesus always found a quiet place to pray. While on his way from one place to the next, Jesus was always present to hear someone’s heart or heal an open wound.
The psalmist said it best, reminding us to “Be still and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10a). It is only in this stillness that we receive the revelation that God is truly God.
When we allow ourselves to be still and be fully present, we can take in the beauty of what’s around us. By turning off the phone and silencing the soundtrack in our minds, we learn that God speaks through his creation and reminds us that he is still in control. In the midst of the demanding, busy moments of life, God gives us the gift of stillness and invites us to settle our souls down with him. Only then do we know that he is God and that we can lay our anxieties and cares at his feet.
When was the last time you were still enough to enjoy the present moment? How often do you press pause in your life life long enough to take in the scenery around you?
Don’t let the blessings of today pass you by. Be still. Slow down. Listen and know that he, alone, is God.
The Rev. Nicole Martin is executive minister at The Park Church.