My daughter and I were up late talking last night. She was struggling with common young adult difficulties: learning how to “adult”. I tried to encourage her, listing her strengths and all she’s accomplished, but I could tell from her body language she was not taking it in. Then, I tried sharing my own struggles: I’m a constant worrier who struggles to trust even God. As I did that I realized while our struggles may have different names, they were the same issue: we needed to learn to be.
Learning to be
Learning to be is learning to be in the moment. It’s not a new concept. I’ve been told it before and it existed LONG before then but as I lay in bed thinking about this idea, I realized it captured all my struggles. Learning to be is foundational to finding joy.
This blog is directed at those who struggle with mental illness and I can imagine what you’re thinking: “I don’t want to BE!” Why would I want to live in the moment when the moment is so bad right now? Hear me out. Mental illness is biological however, the manifestation of this illness plays out in psychological ways: fears, doubts, anger, anxiety. You may not be able to control your brain without intervention but part of that intervention can, and probably should, include coping mechanisms. I would say that learning to be should be one of those mechanisms.
Learning to be means not beating yourself up for the pain of the past or the fear of the future. Learning to be is to appreciate the moment you are in. Learning to be is accepting yourself and your life, not fatalistically, but instead, appreciatively. Learning to be is finding the good in the moment. Learning to be is to find peace.
Easier said than done
As my daughter and I talked she reminded me that all of this is easier said than done so I would add: Learning to be is about hope – not looking forward to some imagined future but resting in the knowledge that this moment can be appreciated because this moment will not last. There was a time when I struggled to adult but that is not my big issue at the moment. For me, it’s being bogged down in worry so much so it can be hard to see the sun even when it’s blinding my eyes. I look back now and remember her struggles but I can deal with those types of struggles now. And, while I don’t deal with her struggles, others do not deal with mine. I have a friend who no longer deals with worry the way it consumes me. She has moved on to new issues of her own. That particular one is no longer a giant stumbling block in her life as it is in mine. She's moved on, I've moved on and, in time, my daughter will move on. Learning to be reminds us that we can be in this moment because life is ok. It has it’s bumps in the road that trip us sometimes but it’s ok to be here now. We can think about all the bumps later. For right now, we just have to be.
It’s hard to just be when you worry so I have to remember that it’s safe to just be because God has everything under control and He doesn’t need my help. I can breathe deep because He controls my every breath. He brought me through my earlier struggles and He’ll bring me through both my current and future ones.
So, how do you find the moment? Pray, meditate, breathe deep and be. When the thoughts come at you, let them come and go. When the anxiety creeps up, relax in the arms of the Lord. When all those negative emotions – anger, hatred, fear – threaten to consume, remind yourself that you are loved and perfect love casts out fear (1 John 4:18 NIV). You will be okay. You will be safe. Just be.