Z is for Zare

Z is for Zare - today #AtoZChallengeZare is an Amharic word. It means “today.” As we come to the end of this year’s A to Z Challenge (more than a month late), I think it’s altogether fitting that we conclude this series with this word. Because this is the only day we can control. Yesterday is already passed. We don’t know what tomorrow will bring.

Don’t get me wrong. We can learn from the past. We can remember the past. We can even celebrate the past. But we cannot live in the past.

The same is true about the future. We can look forward to things to come. We can dream. We can plan. We can chart out where we’d like to be in 5, 10, or 25 years. We can dream some more. And hope for a better future. But the only way we can change the future is by changing how we live right now. Today. Because that’s the only time we can change anything.

Yesterday is finished. We cannot carry around any grudges or hard feelings. They don’t do us any good. Believe me. I learned the hard way.

Tomorrow has its own set of troubles. We cannot accomplish anything by taking on tomorrow’s worries today. It just bogs us down and keeps us from making the most out of today. So let tomorrow take care of itself.

With a firm footing in the past and our eyes looking ahead to what could be, what should be, what will be…let’s make the most of every opportunity and seize the day.

That’s right. I went all Dead Poets Society on you.

“Carpe Diem,” y’all.

Grab today by the horns. Wrestle it to the ground. Suck the marrow out of life. Live deep. Love unconditionally. Forgive freely. If you’ve offended someone, make amends. Find the proverbial hatchet and bury it. Bury it so deep that it’ll never see the light of day again.

Laugh often. Say “I love you.” Walk by faith with reckless abandon. Give generously. Show compassion. People are messy. Embrace the mess. Admire the everyday beauty that’s around you. Celebrate even the tiniest of wins. Give hugs. Lots of hugs.

The first of many hugs to be had.

A photo posted by Matt Todd (@mattdantodd) on

Go ahead and dream big dreams. Set audacious goals. And don’t let them go. Walt Disney has some good advice: “Get a good idea and stay with it. Dog it, and work at it until it’s done, and done right…All our dreams can come true – if we have the courage to pursue them.”

Walt Disney quote about dreaming

Don’t put it off. Don’t wait until tomorrow. Don’t hesitate. We can’t wait around until the circumstances are absolutely perfect. Because they won’t be. And so you’ll just keep putting off to tomorrow what you could be…no, should be doing today. Stop waiting. Enter the race. Say what needs to be said. Write that book. Sing that song. Make that phone call. I don’t know what you’ve been putting off, but it’s time to get the show on the road.

Because here’s the deal: tomorrow never gets here. There is no tomorrow.

You know this. Once tomorrow gets here, it actually becomes “today.” I’m not saying this to create some existential crisis. It’s the truth. When you really look at it and all is said and done: All we have is today. So get started today. Yes, remember the past. Plan for tomorrow. Keep working for a better tomorrow. But live today. Because that’s what we have. Today. Tomorrow will take care of itself.

It behooves us to live. It’s what we’re made to do. We can’t sit around and wait for life to come our way. Yes, there’s a time for reflection. Yes, there’s a time for planning. Yes, there’s a time to rest. Yes, there’s a time to wait. But even in the midst of that waiting? There are opportunities to live life to its fullest. In the midst of our planning, we cannot allow life to pass us by. That’s how we wind up with a life of regrets. I don’t know about you, but I want a life full of memories. I want to be able to look back and see how I helped change the world. I don’t want a life full of even the tiniest of regrets.

Is that what you want, too?

Then let’s get started. What are you waiting for? Start living.

Today. Zare.

My wisest decision in 2013

wisdom turn the page

I don’t really consider myself “wise.” Although I do have a lot of gray hair. And that’s supposed to be some kind of sign of wisdom – right? I’m not buying it.

While I don’t think I’ve made a lot of unwise decisions in 2013, there aren’t many that really stick out as decisions that were necessarily “wise,” either. Except one.

I turned the page.

I let it go.

I stopped nursing that grudge that I’d allowed to stick around somewhere in the back corners of my soul that no one really bothers to look at. I’d held onto it for the better part of two years. Didn’t even realize I was doing it most of the time. But now it’s gone because I’ve let it go. Of course, I had to get kicked in the teeth to realize what I needed to do.

So maybe I’m not so wise after all. But I’m definitely a whole lot more free now that I’m not carrying that burden around anymore.

This post is part of the #ThinkKit December post-a-day blog writing challenge by Smallbox. Today’s prompt: “What was the wisest decision you made this year?”

You interested in participating? There’s still time to join in!

Then God kicked me in the teeth

Face Kick

It’s not anything I ever plan, but September seems like it has turned into a month of reflection for me. Fresh off the heels of our anniversary and the celebration of Aiden’s birthday, I guess I’m already in a sentimental mood when September hits. For some reason, there are a lot of events that happened in September that have had a significant impact on the story of my life. Some of the events have been amazing, like the day we officially became a family of five.

Others?

Not so much.

And it’s my reflection on this last event that happened two years ago this weekend that forced me to look in the mirror. And I’m not sure I liked what I saw. I thought I had moved past this event. I thought I was not longer harboring any resentment or hard feelings. I might have been wrong about that.

You see, our church is kicking off a new small groups initiative. The main point? Circles are better than rows. I knew that saying. it was the main point of one of the final sermons I preached in Muncie. So while I was excited about this new direction our church is taking and I wholeheartedly agree with the statement that circles are better than rows, I found myself dwelling a bit on the events that led up to my firing. It stirred up some sediment in my soul that I thought had already been settled.

I don’t think this was by accident. Because it fully prepared me for the message I heard Sunday morning. It was almost as if the entire weekend was planned just for me:

Let it go.

And that’s when God kicked me in the teeth. That’s when God opened my eyes and made me realize that I was still nursing some kind of bitterness way down deep inside me. That’s when I knew that I hadn’t gotten past things that I thought I had gotten past. I thought I was fine. I thought I had moved past it. This past weekend showed me that there was still some part of my that was desperately trying to hold on to some part of a grudge.

surrender lettering tattoo

So I get it now, God.  I give up whatever rights I think I might have had to harbor those hard feelings that were buried deep in the depths of my heart. I might not think it’s fair. And that’s OK. Because forgiveness isn’t fair. I surrender. It’s time to turn the page and leave the past where it belongs – in the past. There’s too much living to do today to be dwelling on things in the past that I cannot change.

I’ve let it go.

And hopefully, I won’t pick it back up.