Mental Health

Living in the Here and Now

God is Our Greatest Encourager | Libero Magazine 2
As long as we base every decision we make on our future, we will never truly live. Because we never learn to be content in the moment when we are constantly consumed with anxiety about tomorrow.

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Editor's Note: We are a non-religious magazine. However, we acknowledge that spirituality is an important part for some. Our Faith column is a place for anyone to discuss how faith positively affects their mental health and how to improve the conversation around mental health within faith communities.

There is no such thing as contentment. Well, not when you sacrifice every present moment in pursuit of future goals. As long as we base every decision we make on our future, we will never truly live in the here and now.

John Green sums up the life I lived for many years in his book, “Papertowns:”

“And now life has become the future. Every moment of your life is lived for the future — you go to high school so you can go to college so you can get a good job so you can get a nice house so you can afford to send your kids to college so they can get a good job so they can get a nice house so they can afford to send their kids to college […] All those paper people living in their paper houses, burning the future to stay warm.”

Because the future is a target that always shifts. Because we never learn to be content in the moment when we are constantly consumed with anxiety about tomorrow. Because when we refuse to live so much of the present to get to a goal, we are too burnt out by the time we reach it for it to ever be what we need or want.

Living in the future didn’t cause my depression, but it contributed to my feelings of emptiness, hopelessness, anxiety. And embracing the here-and-now has been the most healing experience I have ever chosen.

It is a beautiful, difficult, terrifyingly wonderful experience, and I want to give you the courage to be fully present in every moment of.

The most important step towards living in the here-and-now is to find your motivation to push through the first few terrifying days of reorienting your life to the present, and the bumps in the road that come later in the journey.

Many of us chronically future-livers have never allowed ourselves to live a fully present life.

Consequently, we have no idea what to expect. We have no way to fully know everything will turn out ok if we let go of micromanaging the future.

But what we can know is this: “Growth is painful. Change is painful. But nothing is as painful as staying stuck somewhere you don’t belong.”

For me, risking the unknown was worth escaping my dark, anxious, perfectionistic, burnt-out known. For me, much of motivation came from knowing re-orienting my life was about more than just finding personal healing.

It was about finally surrendering my life to God.

It was about giving my fears to Him and living by faith. He will be enough even if I am not perfect, and even in the midst of the unknowns of change.

And in the end, it freed me from anxiety because even if tomorrow doesn’t work out, it will be ok. God is enough.

Furthermore, it freed me to invest in my present calling by moving me out of a place I didn’t belong: my future.

I have known for years God called me to minister to others with mental illness, so I invested my whole life in pursuing a Ph.D. in psychology. I saw this as the ultimate fulfillment of my calling.

But then, I met Cheryl McAnallen.

I met a woman who lived out a calling to meet people where they are at right now.

In the midst of a difficult period of my life, spiritually, physically, and emotionally, Mrs. McAnallen took the time to get to know me, my struggles, my spiritual gifts, and my potential. She took the time to pray with me, to mentor me, and to share her story and her wisdom.

Mrs. McAnallen taught me the power of making time for people. Through her, God gently reminded me my calling to minister to others with mental illness is not something that will start when and if I become a certified psychologist.

It is something I am called to right now, right where I am, to the people he has put all around me right now.

It is something I don’t need a certification for. It is something I could begin the moment I handed over control of my future to God. It is something I could begin the moment I began to make time to ask Him what he was calling me to do today, this moment, with this person standing in front of me.

I can’t promise you your unknown will be exactly what you planned, but I can promise you this: it will be exactly what God planned it to be.

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Elizabeth currently holds a bachelor’s degree in psychology and is planning to work towards becoming a licensed clinical social worker. Elizabeth feels blessed to have been surrounded with support during her journey with depression, and she is passionate about using her experiences and education to bless people in the same way she was blessed. She hopes that as a contributor to Libero, she will be able to provide very practical support.

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