Why is it so hard to stay there?
In this world of distractions, it seems like everything screams out for our immediate attention. We get stuck in limbo, pulled this way and that. Or we find ourselves focusing on the past, which we can’t change. Sometimes we get fixated on the future, which we can’t control. In the middle of it all, our attention is pulled away from the present and we lose our peace.
When I find myself disturbed in any way, it’s usually because I am preoccupied with something that may or may not happen in the future. In these moments, it is helpful if I can somehow stop the train of thoughts from wrecking my peace of mind. This is easier said than done.
But I have found a couple of things that help me when I get into these mental spaces. One is, I focus on where my hands are. Am I washing the dishes? Driving down the road? Getting dressed? Praying? Focusing on this thought—being where my hands are—helps me get back into the present moment. If I am able to do this, I can once again refocus my attention on what really matters. And that is the present—the present moment where God is.
But more than focusing on being where my hands are, I turn to God in prayer—I ask for help. When it comes to staying in the moment, I sometimes find it impossible to accomplish on my own. I have to have His help to turn off thoughts of the past, thoughts about the future, and thoughts about various things in the present that don’t matter. Because what I really want more than anything else is to give God all the moments of my day. And to do that, I have to do my best to practice the presence of God at all times. By this I mean that I have to see God in each moment, to recognize his presence at all times throughout the day. He is always present with me, regardless of what I am doing.
Practicing the presence of God means that I do my best to acknowledge him in all my thoughts, words, actions, and deeds throughout the day. That I make it a point to notice how is he showing up to me. When I go to Mass, is my mind wandering or am I fully present? Do I experience his presence in the Eucharist? Do I recognize him in the smile of a stranger? What about the sudden inspirational thought—not necessarily my own—to go see my mother or call on a friend who may need to be cheered up? How about the way He shows up in the love my fiancé so freely gives to me every day, and all the ways he shows me unconditionally that he loves me? Do I recognize God’s presence there too?
All it really takes for me to live in the moment is simply tuning in, noticing God’s presence in it, and thanking Him for everything.
Lord, I ask that you continue to show me how to remain fully present to you throughout the day no matter what comes my way. Help me to stay fully present in the moment and to recognize you there with me. Show me how to give the gift of each moment to you, Lord.