Prayerful, purposeful and present

Observing the stages of motherhood, the sages say of the baby and toddler years that “the days are long, but the years are short.” That is an adage that has borne itself out well. My baby and toddler years are well behind me, I can assure you that both the days and the years are short now. There never seems to be enough time to accomplish all the things of busy, ordinary life and to do and say all the things that matter before my children leave home. Time ticks on and I am reminded continually to get to the point. And the point is for all of us to become strong in faith, healed by grace.

Motherhood is about growing children, but it’s about growing women, too. Ideally, it’s about developing day by day into a strong woman. It’s about flourishing, living a life of vocation with wholehearted integrity in order to become the woman God created you to be. Time management advice is easy to come by, and mostly it boils down to prioritize, prioritize, prioritize. It’s important to evaluate our priorities and to use our time accordingly, but how do we ensure that we move beyond efficiency into authenticity? How do we live strong lives, lives that are the ones God intended, lives that take full advantage of the grace he offers to make us who he wants us to be?

Strong women are prayerful. Ideally, prayer is a constant conversation with God. The day begins with quiet time wholly centered on hearing him, and then, as we move into the business of the world inside our homes and out there beyond, prayer is an interior dialogue with Jesus that keeps him in the loop and keeps us focused on what is truly important. To pray all day is to let God in on the details. He knows them all, of course, but he delights in hearing your heart. Further, the constant reminder of who we are and why we’re here helps us to make the best use of the time we have.

Strong women are purposeful. I’m a planner person. I like to make lists and I like to check the items off a list when I’ve completed them. Setting goals and committing them to paper makes me much more productive. Some days, all those lists are utilitarian tasks designed to get me from morning to evening without missing a step. But they might miss the point. In order to live a life of purpose, I need to be sure that a plan is a tool, not a tyrant. The most important feature of a plan is its ability to be rearranged, reconsidered or abandoned altogether in favor of a new plan, better to suited to God’s purposes. That means we look at the interruptions in our day and see that they actually might be opportunities to live out our truest intentions of the day.

Strong women are present. Pay attention; pay close attention. There are innumerable distractions in our lives, a million little ways we can get off course and forget the primary vocation we have to live for Christ in the midst of our families — the call to be Christ to one another. The best way to practice presence in the midst of a family is to develop a habit of looking someone — each and everyone — in the eyes. Make eye contact frequently. To do so is to ensure that the people we love know that they are seen and that we are truly present.

No matter how long the days or the nights seem, life is short. Every day presents a fresh opportunity to live the life God intended. But every day also brings us one day closer to our last day. This is the time we have — right now, in whatever stage we find ourselves — to live with prayerful, purposeful, presence before God. This is the time we have to find strength and grace in him and to be authentically strong women.

Foss, whose website is takeupandread.org, is a freelance writer from Northern Virginia.

       

© Arlington Catholic Herald 2018

@elizabethfoss