Word of the Week

I don't know if you are like me, but sometimes I make my life more complicated than it needs to be especially when it comes to doing things for other people.

When someone is going through a hard time and I feel so moved to act, I say, I'll cook them dinner. Or I'll plan an outing for their children to get them out of the house. Or, I'll go take them flowers. But then of course, life happens as it does to all of us. I can't do that thing I had in my head. So, nothing happens at all.

And I miss an opportunity to do our word this week: to be present.

Present: being in a certain place. Or simply put showing up!

When I look back on my life and those moments where I felt really loved, it has everything to do with other person's "yes" of present.

They pulled in my driveway to chat when they saw me in the yard. Or he walked over at an event to have a conversation with me just because. Or she volunteered to ride with me to an appointment that she knew brought anxiety. That was it. Someone was present with me.

I knew in moments like this I was seen. I was loved. And I saw I was not alone.

I think it's important to note here that all of these moments didn't require bringing anything or prepping in any way. The requirement was being present.

Can you remember a similar experience in your life? Someone took time to be with you and you felt the love . . .

I keep going back to the wisdom of Jeanie Allen in her book, Find Your People in which she talks about the loneliness epidemic our world is facing. She offers this: “Here’s what we do: We spend hours alone in our crowded, noisy, screen-lit worlds, we invest only sporadic time with acquaintances, and then we expect close friends to somehow appear in our busy lives.” (Ouch, right?)

Being present for others is always an intentional act.

Because while it's true: it can feel less complicated to not get involved in other people's drama . . .

It can feel easier to do nothing when we can't do that big something . . .

It can be tempting to think being physically present for someone is not enough (my southern friends, we must bring a casserole when we show up, right?).

But being present for one another is what deep trust is built upon! And it is how love from our heart gets into the hearts of others. And when you do your part, bonds of true community are formed between you and the circles people around you.

Your perfect gesture isn't needed. Your people just need YOU.

So here's what I'd love you to do this week. Listen to the nudges of your heart. Then, stop by. Make a call. Or just show up. Your "yes" to present will mean more than you know. God will use your hands to love somebody who needs it.



P.S. And if you are looking for a faith community of the Christian tradition to be present in, I'd love to invite you to worship with mine today. You can find more about our 11 am EST service in Athens, GA here.

How many times have you seen a loved one walk through a hard season and feel helpless? (Maybe that's this week!)

When those we care about are in pain, we often don't know what to do. Or what we can do that feels helpful. Or we think we are being helpful when maybe we're not. But surely we can show up, right?

To this, enter this week's word: presence.

Presence defined as sharing space within one's immediate vicinity.

In the spring of 2019, my father-in-law grew very sick suddenly. He spent Holy Week in the hospital. He died on Easter Monday.

As we gathered as a family in the days after that, I have to tell you that I was reminded all over again that southerners naturally know a lot about this concept of presence. Presence looked like fried chicken and cobbler magically appearing in our kitchen. Presence looked like friends playing tag with the children in the yard to keep them busy. Presence looked like people coming and not saying a word (my favorite kind of visitors).

Many said, they heard the news and knew they needed to come and BE with us. Love, they said, just drove them on autopilot toward the house.

While no, there was nothing anyone could do to make our dear one return or the pain in our heart go away, we did have was each other. We did not have to be alone.

Can you remember a time in your life when you were encouraged by someone being present with you?

Over the past many months, the pandemic has reminded all of us all how much we NEED community, right? I need you. You need me. We just feel out of sorts when we can't be with each other.

For in presence there is a gift: you can FEEL God's love in the flesh as he or she sits beside you. God has a name that you can see with your very eyes. God comes close in a human conversation partner.

St. Teresa of Avila once said this about God: "God has no body now but yours. No hands, no feet on earth but yours. Yours are the eyes through which he looks compassion on this world. Yours are the feet with which he walks to do good. Yours are the hands through which he blesses all the world."

I'm hoping that it doesn't take a crisis point like a funeral to remind you how beautiful it is to give and receive presence. Who do you know needs a visit or a phone call this week? Who can you reach out to and say, "I just love being with YOU!"



P.S. My father-in-law was such a cool man. We still miss him very much. If you want to know more about him, you can read it here.