Sometimes the most valuable thing you can do is simply be present. While culture tells us our worth is in our productivity, it’s our presence that has power. And nothing shows love like the the offering of ourselves. It’s in this showing up for others that we might have the opportunity to do more for them, but often, the greatest need is loneliness. So, it’s here that our presence has power. Just being available brings great comfort and shows love.
It was our Creator who first told us, “It’s not good for man to be alone….”
A DAUGHTER ALONE
In June, my daughter began school in New York City. That’s a long way from our home in Oregon! We’ve always been a family that enjoyed being together in our nest, valuing most our movie nights, cuddling on the couch. In fact, we specifically bought our big sectional sofa because it could easily accommodate all of us at once. But the time came when our chicks needed to spread their wings, flying away to learn what they have to offer the world. And the place my babiest bird sought was the hub of musical theater.
As difficult as it was for me to wave goodbye, I wasn’t the one starting something new. Natalie was the one leaving security for the unknown in a wildly different culture. Her history includes many physical and emotional traumas, a back story that I will leave out, but important to mention to set the stage. So, it was a huge leap for our girl to pursue her passion having a significant medical file of (yet) unresolved health issues. She is brave!
In the first month of her arrival, with classes in full swing, Natalie was navigating big city, big health issues and big student egos. A challenging course! And when it all became too much, there she was – alone.
But what can a momma do from 3,000 miles away? Facetime was helpful, but it wasn’t presence. Knowing how fear shreds a soul isolated, Jeff and I hopped on the next flight across the country. We showed up.
AVAILABLE FOR NOTHING?
But the thing was, there was absolutely nothing tangible that we could do for our daughter. We couldn’t treat her medical issues and we weren’t allowed within her dorm (thanks Covid!). Midterms and school meetings were not ours to take part in. So, we wandered while we waited, walking the streets of the city that never sleeps in prayer.
From the outside we must have looked like all other sightseers. But we weren’t there to be tourists, we were there to be support. It’s hard to do nothing when there’s something hurting your child! But we weren’t doing nothing. We were praying and we were present so that Natalie would not feel alone.
IMPORTANCE OF PRESENCE
The woman most known for being present for people said:
“Loneliness and the feeling of being unwanted is the most terrible poverty.” -Mother Teresa
Wow! Being alone is worse than starving. Worse than homelessness! Is that what comes to mind when we pass by the camps of the unhoused? Gosh, I bet he could use someone to talk to….
When was the last time you felt alone? Did sadness and fear accompany that solitude? Maybe anxiety even?
Yeah. Not Good.
YOU ARE NOT ALONE
Are you aware that God is omnipresent? That means He is present in all places and all times. He is with you. And He wants you to know it.
Do you know the Bible has well over 300 verses that confer I am with you?
“Behold, I am with you and will keep you wherever you go, and will bring you back to this land. For I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.” -Genesis 28:15 ESV
“It is the Lord who goes before you. He will be with you; he will not leave you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed.” -Deuteronomy 31:8 ESV
“Teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” -Matthew 28:20 ESV
“And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever….” -John 14:16 ESV
I’ve chosen these particular verses because they touch on all three parts of a triune God – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. God has showed up in multiple forms because that is who He is and what He is capable of. Visible and invisible. Tangible and intangible. He is making Himself made known in every way possible…and not limited to a physical form.
COMING TO WHERE WE ARE
The fully God/fully man, Jesus, was here for a time but returned to heaven. Why? I couldn’t say for certain. But maybe because God could be more available to us at all times in spirit form. After all, omnipresence is not possible in a physical form. Jesus in the flesh was consistently mobbed wherever he went. But the Spirit of God dwells in us where we are when we invite Him into our lives as savior.
There is another extension of God that we skim past but has great potential on this planet. It is humanity. People were made in the image of God (Genesis 1:26) that we might become the body of Christ (1Corinthians 1:27). So, when we show up for others, we are God in the flesh too. But this Godly action requires sacrifice.
TRUE AND FALSE PRESENCE
One of the great deceptions of social media is the false sense of relationship. While we have hundreds of friends liking our perfect pictures, none of them are present. It’s a crossbreed between television and letter writing. We watch others live and comment on it…and they to us. So, what does our mind extrapolate from the fact that we’re popular and yet feel immensely isolated? Probably something like they don’t really care….
Have you seen those posts that require you to read to end and then respond in some specific way to prove you’re true and worthy of remaining on their friend list? What do we do with that? How did we offend without actually having had contact? Are we guilty of our lack of presence?
My example of going to New York, to be available for my daughter, sounds all peaches and cream…goody-goody righteousness. That is an example of what went well and something I am proud of. But there are times when I don’t respond well. There are times when a friend calls and I don’t pick up the call, hiding from the crying…from any responsibility to love. I write about how presence has power because I need the reminder of the poverty spirit I contribute to when I don’t show up.
The gospel, however, is our reminder that we don’t have to be the one who always does it perfectly. We don’t have to get it right because that’s God’s position. We can trust Him because He is always with us. Even when we think otherwise. And if He’s not leaving me alone, He’s also not leaving you alone. He can do that…He’s the Almighty.
The crisis within our immediate family has been an opportunity to revisit the highly significant way of loving others…simply being present. Jesus said His yoke was easy. And although we often find it difficult to just be available without doing anything…that may be the most powerful love we can show.