Learning to Live in the Present

Shoulda coulda woulda. Three words I often say to myself when contemplating a regret. It's so easy to focus on what should've, could've, or would've happened. Over the past few months I've realized how important the present is. When everything you know is flipped upside down, all you can do is live for each moment.


Today, I would have been returning from a 6-week study abroad trip in Spain. Ever since I heard about the opportunity to finish my language credits in a Spanish-speaking country I was sold! I had been dreaming of returning to Europe after a brief taste of its magic 4 years ago. I was accepted into the program on Valentine's Day yet sadly the excitement only lasted a month. We had our first meeting a few days before Spring Break. Meeting fellow students and hearing more details about the trip made it start to feel real. Then, a few weeks later we got an email saying it was cancelled. An expected decision but still devastating. All those dreams of living with a host family, walking historic cobblestone streets, and eating delicious food vanished in an instant.


I know I would have learned so much during that trip, about different cultures and about myself. Maybe I would have returned home completely fluent in Spanish. I sulked for a few days and it's still somewhat of a sore subject. But I'm optimistic I will have another chance to live my study abroad dreams.


Instead of leaving the country, I had to stay home. In my house. With my family. For a long time. Although not without its occasional hardship, it allowed us to become closer. I didn't become a better Spanish speaker this summer but I have my whole life to do that. I gained perspective on how lucky I am and learned the importance of speaking up for social justice issues. I strengthened my relationship with God. And I still got to visit a beach, feel the sand between my toes and taste the salty air. It may have not been a picturesque Spanish coastline, but it was equally as beautiful.

Summer 2020. Definitely not the summer I was planning on. But who knows, in that "normal world" where the coronavirus didn't disrupt everything maybe I would've never started this blog. I would've made excuses about being too busy with schoolwork and life would've gotten in the way.


Writing this, I'm reminded of the song "Right Here, Right Now" from HSM 3. The lyrics are so relatable, even for those not in a relationship. We just want to pause, or at least slow down. In a sense, God put a pause on things this year and allow us to recenter our lives and rethink choices we've made. What a blessing!


I know many of you did not have the summer you were hoping for. And the future looks so uncertain. If you are struggling, I encourage you to stop living in the past and start living in the present. Trust Him because He is in control. God gave us this gift. It's called the present :)


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