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Being mindful of God and others

BY PASTOR BRANDON YOUNG
What does it mean to be mindful? It’s simply paying complete and undivided attention. We live our lives so distracted and it is difficult to be completely mindful. Mindfulness is the basic human ability to be fully present in the moment, aware of where we are and what we’re doing, and not overly reactive or overwhelmed by what’s going on around us.  
Mindfulness practices can help us to increase our ability to regulate emotions, decrease stress, anxiety and depression.  It can also help us to focus our attention, as well as to observe our thoughts and feelings without judgment.  As we become more present in our lives and in relation to others, it can help us to make better decisions, to manage our emotions and to be more fully engaged in life.  The Lord is mindful of each one of us. Psalm 8:4 says, “What is man, that thou art mindful of him? and the son of man, that thou visitest him?”  God the Father pays attention to each of us and even knows how many hairs are on our head. He is never too distracted to listen to His children.  Psalm 139:17-18, “17 How precious also are thy thoughts unto me, O God! how great is the sum of them! 18 If I should count them, they are more in number than the sand: when I awake, I am still with thee.”  If we numbered the times that God thinks about each of us, His thoughts would be more than the sand upon the seashore.  But how often do we think about God, and how mindful of Him are we?  Do we really give God our undivided attention? 
We must choose to be fully present with God. When we accept things the way they are in your present experience, you recognize that even this moment of this ordinary day is a gift from God to be thankful for. Psalm 118:24 says, “This is the day which the Lord hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it.”   Surely we can find a few minutes in each day we have been blessed with to spend quality time with the Creator.  Paul says in 2 Corinthians 5:8, “8 We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord.” If we can absent ourselves from everything going on around us, we can be fully present with the Lord.  On most days, the Lord must compete with everything else.  We concentrate on our problems, worries, cares, and anxiety while God waits on us to see and hear from Him. We seem to only give God attention when we need him to answer a request.  Isn’t it a great thought to know that the God of this vast universe desires to spend uninterrupted and quality time with each one of us?  In the Presence of God, our worries, cares, and stress will seem so small, and we will know that we have nothing to fear since the Lord is for us!  I challenge each one of you to turn off all distractions and spend 15 minutes alone per day in the presence of God.  What a difference it will make in our lives, homes, families, and marriages.  Once we are mindful of God, we will begin to be more mindful of others. 
Philippians 2:4-5a says, “Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others. 5 Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus…”  We are told that we should mindful of those around us, and we are not to be concerned only with self.  Just think for a moment about how well we listen when others are talking. I’m sure this has happened to you recently, you’re in a conversation, and while the other person is talking, your mind goes somewhere else. When it comes back, you have to ask them to repeat what they just said. Mindful listening can help make this common experience less frequent. Mindful listening means paying close attention to what people are saying to you. It helps if you commit to doing this before your conversation even starts.
How do you listen mindfully? Simply be present with your conversation partner. Focus on what they’re saying so you don’t get distracted by your own thoughts. Appreciate their words before you think about your response. Value them as someone with worth, created in the image of God, and thank God for your relationship with them.  We need to be mindful when we listen and when we speak.  It is so important to think about how our words will affect the other person. We often speak without thinking and without being mindful and our words cause great destruction. The tongue is dangerous and can stir up a heap of trouble and cause a fire. If we would only stop and think, before we respond.  We live in a fast paced world where we do most things in a hurry, but it would pay us all great dividends to slow down and be mindful of God and others. 
(Brandon Young is pastor of Harmony Free Will Baptist Church, Hampton)