“Just take things day by day” always seems to be popular advice when we’re going through something tough in our lives. But I think it’s more helpful in the spiritual life to take that idea a step further.
“Perform faithfully what God requires of you in each moment, and leave the thought of everything else to Him. I assure you that to live in this way will give you great peace.” ~St. Jane Frances de Chantal
Giving my full attention to the moments of my day is a real act of will for me. So much of my day consists of small, mundane tasks like cooking and caring for my children. My mind wants to wander to how I’m going to complete the next task on my to-do list or how I should handle problems I’m having in my life. And you know what happens to me? I end up doing so many things half-heartedly…in my marriage, my parenting, my domestic duties, and even my spiritual life.
In my particular life and vocation, what God “requires” of me right now in a given moment could be to rock my little girl to sleep when she’s not feeling well, or maybe to use some free time to catch up on chores. Sometimes what He requires of me is to keep my patience with a cranky toddler, or put away my cell phone so I can have my full attention on the road when I’m driving.
For others, maybe being kind to an irritating coworker is what God asks of them in one moment. Maybe someone’s “yes” in another moment is just to get out of bed on time in the morning. Someone else may be called to stop Internet surfing at work to focus on a project at hand, or to tenderly focus on some task in caring for an aging parent.
A few nights ago, I realized how absent I had been that day to my home and my children. I had been thinking and worrying about a tough situation in my life all day long, and I was pretty much doing a mediocre-to-poor job of everything that day.
It was about thirty minutes past our two children’s normal bedtime, and they didn’t even have their pajamas on yet. We had eaten an uninspired excuse for a dinner. The house was a mess. The kids were whining and fighting over toys while wearing saggy diapers. My husband and I had our voices raised a little so that we could hear each other over the din of our cranky, tired children. We had both been all-but-ignoring the kids as we tried to start an ill-timed discussion about something involving this tough situation we are currently in.
And then one of the kids tripped over a toy and got hurt again (for the third time in ten minutes) and launched into dramatic sobs.
And it just struck me at that moment. What the Lord required of us at that particular moment was to focus on putting our children to bed. To finish getting their pajamas on, to brush their little teeth, to sit in our old brown recliner and read them a story, and to do our nightly prayers as a family.
And so we did.
To live faithfully, moment by moment, is to say “yes,” as our Blessed Mother did, leaving the thought of everything else to Him who loves you, who works everything together for your good, who knows what you need and when you need it.
My frequent prayer now is that God would help me to be present and faithful to what He is asking of me in each little moment and situation of the day. It’s so hard to do sometimes! But what a beautiful dignity our full attention to each moment gives to our lives. And what fruit the Lord can harvest and what peace He wants to give our hearts–when we learn how to live our moments on purpose, in His purpose.