We spend much time talking about living each present moment well. I wish to share some practical hints on how we can make our present moments more livable. It is the Salesian Way to “put on Christ” in each new present moment. These hints are practical applications taken from the writings of St. Francis de Sales. They will come in two parts: five hints in each section. I hope you resonate with them. 1. Don’t let the past drag you down. Develop short memories when it comes to hurts.
Once we ask God for forgiveness, accept it. Then let go and move on. We can’t second-guess past choices or past actions. With regard to past hurts and disappointments, whether from family or friends, we simply have to develop short memories and move on.
St Francis de Sales advice is “live each day well.” He encourages us to be grateful about where we are, not about where we were. His reasoning is simple: He doesn’t want us to awaken near the end of our lives and exclaim: “What a wonderful life I’ve had. I only wish I had realized it sooner.” Conclusion: Realize your life as you are living it!
2. Don’t fear the future.
For many the future is a menacing beast ready to pounce and devour. For Francis e Sales tomorrow is another day to call “today.” Taking care of today is the best reparation for tomorrow. If we are in God’s presence today, we will remain there as tomorrow arrives. Francis de Sales suggests: “think only of today and when tomorrow comes it too will be called today, and then we will think about it.” Conclusion: Live today well!
3. Be a doer and not a worrier.
Don’t let boredom reign in our Lives.
We often spend too much time worrying about what can go wrong. As a result, we hesitate making choices on just about anything. We live life within the phrase “What if?” We say, “What if it rains…” “What if I fail…?” “What if it doesn’t work out?” Others wait too long or for that special moment before acting. We hear “I’ll do it when the kids graduate.” “I’ll wait until I get promoted” or “as soon s the mortgage is paid…” then I’ll do it.”
De Sales invites us to see God’s hands in all creation. De Sales asks us to perceive possibilities rather than impossibilities. St. Francis de Sales once wrote: “If you want to recover lost time, do so in the time still remaining.” Conclusion: Just do it!
4. Be appreciative. Show gratitude often.
Salesian Spirituality invites our prayer life to center on being grateful. Years ago when my great niece Emily was a tiny child, she spoke fast and in a quasi-babble. I did not understand most of what she was saying. I just pretended. However, today she speaks clearly and intelligently. I understand every word. In fact she has a marvelous gift for speaking. It’s an ordinary thing, but it is still a minor miracle of growth. Little moments like this are great times to thank God. When we are grateful for the little things surrounding us each day, then we make our ordinary- extraordinary. De Sales stated: “All that we have and all that we are come from God.” Conclusion: Count your blessings daily.
5. Overlook flaws. See the big picture.
We know life is a journey. We also realize that our journey is as important as the destination itself. When we make a mistake on our travels, it doesn’t cancel all our gifts or our life’s accomplishments. It is just a mistake within the context of our entire journey.
My father didn’t always see the big picture. He never forgot anything. One day I was telling him what a great dad his grandson Eddie is. My dad’s response was a simple: “He borrowed my ladder and returned it broken.” I said: “ Dad that was over fifteen years ago.” He responded, “I don’t care. He still broke my ladder.” Francis de Sales encourages us with these hope-filled words “This life is short, but it is valuable, for by means of it we are able to gain eternal life.” Conclusion: Give people a second chance!
Stay Tuned for Part II: Ten Hints for Living Each Day Well