One of the most important gifts that you can give to the people you love is your presence. “Are we so busy with our work, with our social media, that we’re not paying attention to the people that matter most to us in life? Whether it’s our spouse, our children, our parents, or God, we need to give the people around us our time and our attention,” says Pam Patnode, homeschooling mother and author. “If we can be present to others, our relationships will grow and bear much fruit.”
In paragraph 1088 of the Catechism, the word ‘present’ is used over and over again while talking about the Eucharist. “God wants us to know that He, through Christ, is present to us in the Eucharist. It’s emphatic—the Church wants us to know that being present matters. It matters to God—which is why He is continually present to us today—but it matters to others, too,” says Patnode.
Being present to the people around us is an ongoing process. “We need to go into this knowing that it isn’t going to be a quick fix just because we respond to our coworker or spouse or child today with a certain level of presence or attention; this is a lifelong journey,” says Patnode. She loves a quote from author Sister Joan Chittister that says, “It is not perfection that leads us to God, it is perseverance.”
Practicing being present to others is something we should do every day. “When your spouse comes in and wants to have a conversation with you, it takes daily practice to look up from the newspaper or smartphone or computer and look at the person talking with us and give them our attention,” says Patnode. Really listen to your child when they are telling you about their day. Watch your grandkids when they want to show off their cartwheel. Being truly present to the people in our lives will make a huge difference in your relationships.