How To Escape The Roller Coaster

No matter where you are, you look around and, sure enough, there you are.

Do you spend a lot of time and energy trying to be somewhere other than here-and-now?

I’ve noticed lately that my inner life seems to be a roller coaster. Past experience tells me that the valleys will eventually outnumber the hills, and when that happens I’ll settle into a low spot. Unless I take some sort of evasive action, my natural tendency toward depression will drag me into the shadows.

As I think about trying to level things out, I recognize that most of the negative emotions conspire to take me mentally and spiritually away from right here and right now. I believe in the notion of spiritual warfare, and it seems that one of the enemy’s most effective tactics involves diverting my attention anywhere other than the present.

Worry and anxiety almost always focus on past events I cannot change or imagined future events that probably won’t occur anyway. I’d speculate that 70%-80% of my worries fall into these two buckets, which means energy spent worrying about them is completely wasted. It’s a sinkhole that drains my ability to address those issues that might be within my control.

Feeling guilty forces me to dwell on pain caused by my mistakes and bad choices. Some of those mistakes have severe long-term consequences for me and for others, and there’s absolutely nothing I can do to change that unpleasant fact of life.

Regret dooms me to a life of “If only ___.” Missed opportunities, squandered gifts, wasted time, for me the list seems endless. And then, in an ironic twist, I waste more time beating myself up about wasted time.

Not much point in continuing the list, because the point is obvious to me. Any time I refuse to live here-and-now, the root appears to be my lack of trust in God.

He sent Jesus to redeem and atone for the past; I’m forgiven, the slate’s wiped clean. He assures me that He holds my future in His hands. He gives me the precious gift of the present moment and promises to walk with me. But it’s not enough.

I don’t trust His promise of forgiveness, so I try to re-live the past. I don’t trust His plan, so I try to manipulate the future.

It’s an old, recurring pattern. I’m trying to take God’s place, trying to be my own savior. Somehow I act as though I can deal with the past and anticipate the future better than He can.

Of course, that’s precisely what the enemy wants. He wants me to play at being God and pretend that I really know best. He wants me to fuss about the past and fear the future — he’ll do anything to keep me out of right now, which is where I can encounter God.

I’d like your ideas on this. I’m wondering if the most effective thing I can do in my effort to even out the roller coaster is to focus on God, right here, right now. Seems sort of obvious as I read it, so why is it so difficult?

What are your thoughts on the notion that anything that takes us away from here-and-now also takes us away from God?