The themes of our lives…

I’ve been noticing a reoccurring theme in my life recently. This has happened before where a conversation, will spark a memory of something I read the previous week, and perhaps heard in a sermon that weekend or overheard at work or all of the above. You catch my drift. It’s the same message over and over from, like, 10 different sources.

Be present.

As per my normal M.O., when I first noticed this, I immediately began to think of everyone in my life that needed to ponder that phrase “be present.” The message I was receiving though, loud and clear, was that I was the one that needed to consider it. Just me. Sigh.

If you have been reading Habit-Forming Success for a while, you have probably picked up on the fact that maintaining a calm demeanor in periods of high-stress or transition is not my strong suit. It’s ironic actually that I can sit in a room with someone else talking about their anxieties and be perfectly fine; even having something to helpful to offer in the process. But “therapizing” myself? Much more difficult.

Being present and consistently feeling anxious are completely contradictory. The most common phrase you’ll ever hear an anxious person say is what if? What if is all about the future and everything that could potentially go wrong. It takes you out of  the present and moves you into a world that has not yet occurred.

So message #11 in my life on the topic of being present is below, written by a very wise and insightful guy, who also happens to be one of the pastors at my church. Something more to think about…

I admitted to feeling occasionally very angry to a friend a few days ago. He responded, “. . .anger is a product of fear. What do you fear?”

It’s a great question. In the midst of feeling like something outside ourselves needs to change, or else, what if we sincerely asked, “what am I afraid of?”

Anxiety is very rarely based on something that IS happening. It’s always what might happen. What happened long ago that we don’t want repeated. What should be happening but isn’t. In truth, there’s nothing less present and alert to the reality of this moment than anxiety. We bring it into adulthood from the ashes of childhood. It serves as a shield against the threat of pain – with the unfortunate side effect of shielding against joy in the bargain. After time, fear normalizes. As though becoming part of our DNA, a mutation from longterm exposure to our family’s non-specific, general angst. It doesn’t do anything helpful. Much the opposite. But we’re so used to having it we can’t imagine life without it.

“…the anger of man does not achieve the righteousness of God.” -James 1:20, NASB  

Faith in Christ is as much about disbelief as belief. And today Christ invites you and I to disbelieve our fear and anger. To become at least skeptical about the efficacy of being upset. I’m persuaded that Christ isn’t trying to get us “righteously angry”, or upset about right things versus the silly things of our former life. Christ invites us into freedom, and free people have no fear. Free people don’t argue to get others to agree or conform. Free people aren’t angry, because they understand what Dallas Willard understood; “There is nothing that can be done with anger that cannot be done better without it.” (The Divine Conspiracy).

Here’s to freedom.

Here’s to peace. 

Steve Daugherty

Teaching Pastor



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