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The world of diapers, making school lunches, running from place to place, and juggling a massive to-do list is often the life of the mother. We work so hard to serve those around us, so this idea of “being” sounds like a far-off idea that can in no way be reality. Although this idea of being instead of doing sounds great, it feels unattainable when our heads are in ten places at once and we are lucky if we get a shower in! The answer to being is not so simple, because we must ask ourselves a very personal question: how do we let God realign our hearts to a place of peace?

Hurdles to Peace

We all have different hurdles to this place of peace. You may be a grade A “doer” who thoroughly enjoys getting a task done with plenty of time to spare, or you may be constantly tempted to check your phone and connect with distant friends. Maybe your struggle is serving in all sorts of great organizations because saying no is just too hard! Shame and guilt may be the demon that keeps you dwelling on the past or consumed with unrealistic expectations for yourself. However, as a mother, we have had to fight the urge to do, do, do, and focus on our priorities (aka: God, our husbands, and our kids). Living in the present moment  is a constant struggle because there will always be a million things to do or a million ways to criticize ourselves. Identifying our hurdles to living in the present moment is the first step to allow God into that area of our lives to heal and transform it. As Matthew 6:34 says, “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Let the day’s own troubles be sufficient for the day.” If we do not know what makes us anxious, how can we really begin to work on it? Taking time to reflect on our anxieties allows for the space for God to enter in and transform a fear or anxiety into greater connection with Him.

Wisdom from Scripture on living in the present moment

St. Mark’s Gospel uses the word “immediately” 41 times as a way to propel the story forward. Mark’s writing is thought to be Peter’s view of the story of Jesus, and Peter’s view of the story was seen through the lens of immediacy  

Here are a few examples:

  • Jesus immediately knew in his mind what they were thinking to themselves, so he said, “Why are you thinking such things in your hearts?” Mark 2:8
  • “Immediately her flow of blood dried up. She felt in her body that she was healed of her affliction.” Mark 5: 29
  • “Immediately on seeing him, the whole crowd was utterly amazed. They ran up to him and greeted him.” Mark 9:15
  • “He came and immediately went over to him and said, “Rabbi.” And he kissed him.” Mark 14:45
  • “And immediately a cock crowed a second time. Then Peter remembered the word that Jesus had said to him, “Before the cock crows twice you will deny me three times. He broke down and wept” Mark 14:72

As you can see from these examples, the story moves fast. Miracles, betrayals, and forgiveness happen in the instantaneous moments of everyday life. Therefore, God is working in the immediacy of the present moment. If the apostles were not paying attention, these things could have been missed. This begs a scary question; what do we miss when we are not present in the present moment? Are we missing something God wants to say to us or do with us? St. Peter’s focus on immediacy makes more sense when we recognize what can be missed if we are not paying attention.

Just like Peter we may be impulsive or worried about the past or the future.. Like Peter, we can see we are on a journey, and in this journey, we come to know Jesus. Peter’s desire to have faith in Jesus, as well as his profession of faith, is contrasted by his doubt and his lack of trust. However, if we take all four Gospels and see how Peter is portrayed throughout them, we see his growth. This is very encouraging for us because we see someone who was Jesus’ right-hand man, who didn’t always understand Jesus. But we see how he grows and that’s what we must focus our attention on, too. Focusing on our relationship with Christ is the first step to being more present. Jesus is here to help us, personally and wants to be central to our lives immediately! God is extending grace to us in each moment of every day! All we have to do is accept it. This is remarkable because it means that God  is calling us not only every day, but in every moment. 

How prayer helps us become more present to God

Prayer is valuable even if we don’t “sense” God during prayer. When we are interrupted or distracted, God is still with us. He wants to hear about even our distractions and interruptions. Arguably, the greatest adjustment to motherhood is the loss of time for a “perfect prayer life.” Sitting still for a long period of time is not possible with little kids. Having a consistent time of prayer is not easy to come by. However, there is a deeper kind of prayer that happens in each moment. Sometimes it is just about choosing the next right thing. The simplicity of this type of prayerful living out of one’s vocation can feel too simple, but as any tired and overwhelmed mother knows, it is easier said than done. To further this point, think about people in the early Church who could not read and write. Their prayer lives were very simple. They lived out their vocations as laborers, mothers, fathers, and craftsmen, but they took moments of silence during the day. This is part of the tradition of the liturgy of the hours. As we notice how God is working in the little moments of each day, as frustrating and uncomfortable as they can be, we begin to see what God is doing in our lives amidst the overwhelming sacrifices we make on a daily basis. Even just the act of offering our daily frustrations to God and asking him to join us there, is a prayer. This simple lifting of our heart to God is in itself a prayer. It is  amazing that in one or two minutes of silence at a time God will speak if we listen. He doesn’t need an abundance of time to communicate with us.

What would being more present mean to our family members?

According to Mother Angelica, being more present ultimately allows us “to keep moving forward and to be available to both the graces and the challenges of the present moment. This therefore allows us to stay true and present to those [we]’re with. [We]’re fully engaged, [we]’re not checked out, [we]’re not somewhere else.” God could be calling us to do great things today, but if we are too focused on a past hurt or future concern, then we simply ignore what is happening right in front of us! Too often we fall into the trap of dwelling on the past or being anxious about the future. A consequence of this frame of mind is that we become frozen in time. We are unable to move forward because either our history haunts us or we are stuck worrying about  the future. This begs the question, what in our pasts holds us back? What are we nervous about in the future that keeps us preoccupied? As mothers, we can be overly concerned about mothering the ‘right way.’ This anxiety can be a self-fulfilling prophecy because the thing we want to do so well, be present, is hijacked when we start worrying about being a good mom. This worry about being a good mom, puts us in our own heads and takes us out of the present moment. Again, the first step in letting God into the insecurity is admitting there is one there. Don’t be afraid to ask yourself these hard questions. You may not like what you discover, but you will have the knowledge to know how to work on yourself.

Being present in the moment allows us to love those God is calling us to love primarily our families. As we become more present, we live out our vocations more fully and we become holy. This is the simplicity of how God calls us to holiness. He just says be here in this moment with me, your spouse, and your kids. Being present means listening attentively, empathetically responding, and connecting with love and mercy. This is the lifelong battle to holiness, but take courage! Like St. Peter, take it one day at a time, and remember, God is continuously extending a hand of love, forgiveness, and mercy in each second of every day!