My husband and I played golf a couple of weeks ago, and I was having a difficult time driving the ball. It seemed like I was just hacking it all the way to the green. After about three holes, I had to put my mind in perspective. I needed to forget about those first three holes. Hole number four was going to be different. The total score must be forgotten, and I simply needed to focus on the present moment -- teeing off on hole number four.
I concentrated on all aspects of the swing: holding the club correctly, keeping my head down and following through. I took a couple of practice swings. It felt good. I moved my stance in front of the ball. I told myself that the only thing that counts is this swing -- nothing before it matters, nothing after it will matter. I swung back and whoosh. The ball flew nearly to the water at the bottom of the hill.
"Whew. There it goes," my husband said, affirming a good shot. I smiled a little and scooted into the golf cart to move up and concentrate on my next swing, trying of course to repeat the action saying to myself, "Only this swing in this present moment counts."
Then I got to thinking -- that's the way life should be. We need to be living more for the present moment. We need to appreciate the present moment, embrace it, cherish it, and accept it as the will of God.
Oftentimes we get immersed in the past -- immersed in our past sinfulness. We might think that there is no way God can forgive us -- our sins are too many or our sins are too great. I've done this myself. Even though I have recognized my sin, reconciled with God and in my intellect know I am forgiven, this sin keeps popping up and reminding me of my past life.
Many post-abortive women and men I've worked with feel the same way. They believe God can forgive others, but he can never forgive them. They believe their sin is simply too awful.
My dear brothers and sisters in Christ, we need to look at where these messages are coming from. Keeping us stuck in the past is the devil's trick to keep us in sin and from living the life God wills for us to live. The best avenue for the devil to work is the mind. He gets in there with a thought, and if we entertain that thought, it keeps us bound to sin.
What we need to do is recognize where the thought is coming from and dispel it right away. One way I do this is by calling on St. Michael the Archangel to defend me in this battle. And then I quickly call on my guardian angel, my patron saint, my heavenly mother, Mary, and I implore them to intercede before the throne of Jesus. I will make the sign of the cross and tell the evil one to get out of my head because by the blood of the cross, I belong to Jesus.
Sometimes these thoughts will plague us at night -- at least they do me. I keep a small crucifix next to my bed. Sometimes these thoughts will wake me up. So I simply pick up my crucifix, hold it in my hand, tell Jesus I am trusting in him to fight this battle for me, and, through his grace, I am able to go back to sleep.
The spiritual battle is real. Sometimes there are legions of evil angels tugging on us. I've experienced this, and I've seen it in others. Take forgiveness, for example. When someone has hurt us so greatly, we have to work through a process to forgive, which starts simply by being willing to forgive. Once we've worked through this process, the evil one comes, stirs up those thoughts, we entertain them and get entangled in all the hurt and pain that was inflicted upon us. All of a sudden we're back to square one -- being an unforgiving soul. And we all know that holding onto this unforgiveness -- this anger and hurt -- only keeps us living in the bondage of the past and not in the present moment -- the freedom and peace Christ promises us.
None of us can change the past. It's done. Time can't be taken back and relived. So we must heal the past, accept the forgiveness offered by Jesus and take steps to move on in his grace.
It's just like forgetting those bad shots of golf. We must walk up to the ball and make the present swing a real hit.
Donetta Robben is a freelance columnist from Hays. Write to her at P.O. Box 614, Hays, KS 67601, or e-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org