How to shift from an “end times” focus to living your life now.
Something Rachael and I discussed on our latest podcast episode (Listen HERE), was the effects of growing up with end times theology.
There was always some kind of impending doom that was being talked about as a motivator to evangelize our “lost” neighbors and family. It was also used as a motivator for avoiding “sin.”
I remember being told several times that I needed to “be right before god” before he came back. The practicalities of that meant that I had to apologize to god for every sin I had committed before he came back or before I died or I would not get to spend eternity in heaven. I would end up in hell. Add to this the fact that “sin” could be as simple as a thought, a feeling of anger. It is no wonder I was full of anxiety and afraid of my own thoughts and feelings. I could end up in hell and it was actually entirely out of my control because I did not know where my thoughts were coming from.
I was told “memorize scripture, and if you are constantly quitting scripture in your mind, or praying, you won’t be sinning.”
What a task for an 11 year old. I did it though, because my life was hanging in the balance and I wanted to spend forever with my family. I actually memorized a good third of the bible by the time I graduated High School. I was also so anxiety ridden that I lived with almost constant stomach pain.
The end was always the focus. We prepared for it by telling people about Jesus and we tried to be ready to die at any moment by constantly apologizing to god for just being human.
It’s no wonder perfectionism is so pervasive.
So how does a person shift from this type of end focus to living in the present?
I believe this comes through the practice of presence. My journey with meditation and mindful movement, like Yoga, has allowed me to really live in the present moment. I know that may feel too simple, so allow me to explain.
With a constant focus on the end there is anxiety and fighting to be okay, and nothing is ever really okay or sure. We try and truly “fail” to always “be right with god.”
The practice of meditation is just that: a practice. It is known that doing the practice is the work, there is no end. There is no arrival. There is no failure. You come to the practice and you try to bring your thoughts back to your breath, back to your body, and you do this again, and again. And every time you spend time doing this you have done it. That is all.
It is not something you can ever doing perfectly, and that is never the point. The purpose is to practice.
Through doing this practice a trust grows within yourself that doing this is enough, that you come to the practice and you try, and that trying is good enough. Meditation is actually scientifically proven to help your focus, and change your brain. It actually helps you be in the present moment.
All of this to say, I know what it is like to grow up with constant anxiety about the end times, or god coming back. I lived that full anxiety riddled adolescence. I was terrified. And now I have a practice that helps me live in the present moment each day and I am incredibly thankful.
I know every person's journey is different, and I do not know what is best for you. Literally only you can know that. But this is what has helped me, and it has helped many people. I think it is worth trying.
If you are uncertain where to start, I created several free meditations that are available to my subscribers. If you subscribe to my website you will have access to them and my free workbook.
Much love to you on your journey back to living in the present moment.
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