At the beginning of each year, I try to find a phrase that will challenge me to grow for the next 12 monthsÑphysically, emotionally, and spiritually. The phrase has to be broad enough to allow for various interpretations but also specific enough that it prompts me to take concrete actions.
This year, I chose the following two words: Be present. I wrote them down in my daily planner and my journal and posted them in my bedroom and office. I posted them, well, anywhere I could so that I would have a constant reminder of my promise.
But why are you writing about this now? We’re already three months into the year, you might be thinking. Well, I didn’t want to write about this until I had time to live with the words, reflect on them, and see if they challenged me in the way I hoped they would. You know, kind of like when you announce a New Year’s resolution to everyone, break it within a few weeks, and then when they ask about it, you have to admit that you have bailed on the resolution.
Also, in the past I have changed my phrase because I felt it wasn’t what I needed at that time. But these words feel right. In case I had any doubts, as I was writing this column I received an e-mail that contained the following words: “Maybe the best way to live is to be right smack in the middle of the present moment, even if the moment is just a few minutes long. “
Right Words, Right Time
But why these words? When I was thinking about the things I wanted to be more aware of during this year, I kept coming back to certain ideas. Those were ideas such as showing up places where I needed to be, being attentive when I was with people I cared about, displaying to others through my actions the best person I can be, and more. I searched for a phrase that encompassed those desires. And then I came across the word present.
Perhaps it came to mind because it was just after Christmas, but I think it was more because it was such a flexible word that it could wrap itself around all the things I was trying to focus on with all its different meanings. I am, after all, a lover of words and what they can convey.
So I thought of all the different ways that the word present could address the things I wanted to work on in my life this year. For instance, I want to be more present to othersÑas in showing up when they need me. I want to get better at showing up for things such as Mass, my kids’ games and events, or to visit my dad.
I want to reflect on what kind of person I’m presenting to others. Am I being a good wife, mother, sister, or friend? Are those around me seeing the best I have to offer and getting my full attention?
Possibly the hardest for me, though, is to try to focus more on the present. I am a notorious worrier. I worry about everything, even though I shouldn’t, knowing that it’s all in God’s hands. Yet I still do. I need to think about what I’m missing by allowing worry and what’s going to happen down the road prevent me from enjoying today and all its blessings.
As for the be at the beginning of the phrase, I didn’t just throw that there to make a sentence. No, that was strategic too. It reminds me that “I am wonderfully made ” (Ps 139:14). All I have to do is simply be present and enjoy the blessings.