One of the first concepts you have to “get” when you are a beginning cultural anthropology student is the idea of how many non-Western cultures view time.
For most of us, time is a linear thing, lines of days in a week or month that we can cross off or circle as we wait in anticipation for their arrival. We divide our days into morning, afternoon, and evening. We distinguish between past, present and future.
For some of us, the past is a living thing we carry each day, a burden of mistakes or victimizations we haven’t forgiven ourselves or others for. Each present moment gets lost in the miasma of not letting go of what has been. Instead of learning from the past and moving on, we stay in a cycle of non-growth.
For others, the future is our challenge. We are so busy worrying about what might happen, we don’t enjoy the moment in hand. We also fail to remember all the times in the past when our worries were proven unfounded.
In Native American cultures, the concept of linear time is quite foreign. Instead, the circular is the more favored concept. Circles represent how connected people are to each other and to the natural world around them.
The perpetual now embraces the circle in that past, present and future are considered to be always with us in each moment. We are never without what has come before, but we are also not without the promise of what is to be.
Living in the perpetual now means understanding the kind of wholeness in time that makes enjoying each moment truly possible. My best present is in full knowledge of where I have come from and where I intend to go.
For the Christian, embracing a perpetual now attitude means tapping into the awesome power that is Christ’s love for us. It is living in each moment knowing that we are forgiven. It is living like we truly believe the promise of our salvation.
In her book, Battlefield of the Mind, Joyce Meyers explains:
Think and speak about your future in a positive way, according to what God has placed on your heart, and not according to what you have seen in the past or are seeing even now in the present.
Reading and knowing God’s Word, spending regular time in quiet contemplation with Him, and believing God “will work to the good all things for those who believe in Him”–these are ways to grasp the kind of now that is backed by the full power of God (Romans 8:28).