I once asked a friend how often she thought about God. The question came out of my admiration of her—she seemed so peaceful and holy, and I figured it must be some kind of God thing.
“Throughout the day,” she said, and then she told me about her practice of intentionally bringing God into situations in her everyday life.
“How often do you think about God,” she then asked me. “Not that often,” was my reply.
I wanted to be more aware of God throughout my day and decided to adopt her practice of intentionality. I quickly realized that I needed to adapt the practice a bit. I am a very visual person, so it was easier for me to imagine Jesus walking beside me throughout the day.
Petition and praise became the two categories into which I slotted events as each day unfolded.
A cashier at the grocery store who seemed to be having a difficult day would elicit a prayer of petition. Or a mother struggling with a tired child or my own impatience. I would turn to Jesus and ask him to help.
Someone holding the door for me, children playing happily or a kind word would bring forth a prayer of praise and gratitude.
Each person and every event took on a different hue when I turned to Jesus standing beside me and tried to look at each person or event through Jesus’ eyes and with his compassion.
Where I might have negatively judged someone who was being rude, Jesus invited me to imagine that person’s back story and consider what awful thing might have happened to make that person that way. I started to pity people who were angry or mean, reminding myself that I would not want their lives.
Judgment faded; compassion increased.When I went to work for the Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, I learned of Mother Cabrini’s practice of living from the heart of Jesus. She had exchanged her heart for the heart of Jesus and saw the world through the eyes of Jesus’ heart. Even more intimate that visualizing Jesus standing beside me was visualizing my heart swapped out for Jesus’s heart.
As the days, weeks, months and years passed, the practice became more a part of life, and I found myself more aware of God.
When my mother was hospitalized last month, one of my first thoughts was, God has her. The medical people could do what they could and I can do what I can, but ultimately, I know that God is holding my mother, and that awareness brought relief and peace.
Reflecting back, I realize how much the years of practicing bringing Jesus into everyday circumstances has become a part of my life and how much more quickly I can let go of worry because I know I am not alone in any burdensome situation. Just as God has my mother, God has me and that is the safest place I can be.