Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget none of His benefits. PSALM 103:2 

You weren’t invited. Someone hurt you with their words. Maybe you weren’t complimented. Whatever the case, these things happen to all of us. It’s how we choose to respond that shapes us and the world in which we live.  

Thoughts produce chemical reactions within. While these can feel uncomfortable, if you look to an external experience to change them, you relinquish your own personal power. If you need that invitation, compliment, or external experience in order to feel good, then you aren’t truly good within. External experiences cannot define you or give you your value and worth. God does that. Plus, while positive external experiences may feel good for a moment, they never last. Relying on them for your personal well-being simply inserts you in a cycle of chasing after the next experience once that current chemical rush dissolves. 

Presence doesn’t ignore uncomfortable emotions, nor does it require a different set of circumstances before experiencing peace. Presence allows your emotions to do their work, without judgment, and then move on. This invites calm and joy into your internal atmosphere. Both pain and pleasure are fleeting, so allow yourself to feel them as they come. Doing so trains your body to be in this moment, at this space, and in this time. In training your body to be present, you train your mind to ignore whatever doesn’t really matter or impact you.  

Learning how to pull your mind into the moment right now enables you to let go of the thoughts that are not really yours anyhow. The mind is a busy thoroughfare littered with a lot of junk that has fallen out of other people’s cars. Be careful what you allow to spill over into your path. After all, the present is your canvas for tomorrow.  You are painting your future with every thought. Your thoughts are the oils on your canvas. Paint well.  

Whatever brings you joy by drawing you into your heart and out of your mind so you can feel fully, do that. Then do it again.  Presence comes marked by moments of pure devotion to a solitary pursuit. It doesn’t have to be a big pursuit. Start with something small. When you are in your heart, you are present. Sometimes we make it harder than it actually is. Living from your heart simply involves looking, seeing, smelling, and feeling the moments right now, unfiltered. 

Presence brings a myriad of positive benefits both mentally and physically in your life such as reducing stress, improving sleep, boosting your immune system, reducing chronic pain, and improving attention, memory, and decision making. Overall, presence allows you to connect more deeply with yourself and others as well as live more intentionally. 

Jesus, thank You for the gift of presence and the benefits it brings my way. Amen. 

This is an excerpt from It’s All Good: 90 Devotions to Embrace Your Now by Heather Haira devotional now available on Shop all books, journals, and devotions from DaySpring here.