A Catholic Convert in Ottawa

Shifting Our Focus

Posted on: March 27, 2015

practice at driving range

Spring is coming–the snow is melting on the golf courses, my husband notices…

Yesterday afternoon, I took my English bulldog for a walk around the neighbourhood. With the changeable weather lately, she hadn’t been out much, and we both appreciated the chance to stretch our legs.

But while she was excited about the patches of grass to walk on and the wonderful scents to be smelled, I noticed the garbage exposed by the melting snow, the mud that I didn’t want her to track home, and the puddles that threatened to soak my shoes.

Sometimes it’s far too easy to focus on the negative:

  • the unending cycle of laundry and dishes;
  • the annoyance of waiting for appointments or dealing with commuting hassles;
  • the persistent cold and damp weather;
  • the crying infant or whining toddler at Mass.

But if we choose to shift our focus and view things in a more positive light, we may also see opportunities to serve others and grow in faith:

  • Loads of laundry and dishes mean we’re clothed and well-fed. And instead of feeling annoyed, as though no one notices what needs to be done, we could ask for help with household chores and teach our children some life skills.
  • In a busy world, the time we spend sitting in the waiting room at the doctor’s or dentist’s office, waiting for our children’s activities to wrap up, or commuting gives us a chance to just breathe, to talk to God about our day, or to listen to a Christian audio book or a rosary CD.
  • Although the weather is still damp and dreary, we can be thankful the rain and milder temperatures hold out the promise of spring. We can enjoy a walk (without boots!) while the skies are clear and appreciate that we’re heading out the door and coming home in the daylight. We can purchase seeds or bulbs for a garden—our own or maybe a prayer garden at our church—and start some seeds indoors. We can start spring cleaning, like sweeping out the garage and washing throw pillows or tidying up the children’s liturgy supplies and kitchen cupboards at church.
  • Crying children at Mass, as our parish priest loves to point out, mean that there are children at Mass! We can give thanks for that and try to support young families. Providing Christian board books for little ones, a quiet area for parents to feed and change them, and a children’s liturgy and family-friendly activities show our parish to be a welcoming place for families seeking a church home.

I pray that, instead of being worn down by the little things each day, we would ask God to help us to see things from his perspective—and to see opportunities instead of challenges.

Do everything through love and for love, making good use of the present moment, and do not be anxious about the future.

~ St. Margaret Mary Alacoque, quoted in “Celebrate April 2015,” Catholic Digest, April 2015

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Food for Thought

(Y)ou do not know about tomorrow. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we shall live and we shall do this or that.” ~ James 4:14-15

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