One thing that really stuck out to me last year was the impact of presence. I’ve felt a heightened awareness of how presence really changes everything. You notice when people show up or are absent. You notice when they are physically present, but not quite mentally or emotionally there.
Absence is loud and it can be very painful. If you have experienced this and no one has acknowledged your pain, I want to express to you that you are both worth showing up for and being present with.
Let me tell ya… as a physical touch extrovert, this lady sure noticed the absence of people during quarantine! Can anyone else relate? Quarantine certainly had its challenges, but it also provided a lot of extra time.
Do you know just how impactful your presence is?
If you haven’t heard this recently: your presence matters; you matter.
There is no one like you and this world desperately needs your full presence.
An important aspect of being present is also being engaged. This can look a lot of different ways, but a few examples could be sitting in silence with someone during a difficult time, investing conversationally by asking questions and actively listening, or spending intentional quality time together.
But how often do we physically show up somewhere, yet mentally or emotionally we are somewhere else?
Don’t get me wrong; I’m definitely guilty of this. I can be one-track minded sometimes. With long to-do lists, constant demands of the day, and uncertainties of tomorrow it’s understandable. It’s emotionally easier sometimes, too, but we forfeit so many gifts when we do this. When this is happening, first, know there’s so much grace available to us that we need to extend to both others and ourselves.
So after receiving this grace, how do we move into being fully present with others?
Things that can help us embrace the gift of being present:
- Awareness. First, have the awareness that your presence is a gift. As you become aware that your presence is a gift, you are more likely to see others’ presence as a gift as well.
- Intentionality. Purposefully practice being present with others and offering compassion to that person.
Things that are barriers to being present:
- Activity. Activity can be very good, but it can turn into striving. Striving likely means I’m not filled with rest, nor is it very restful for those around me. When we pause and live lives prioritizing rest, then it’s easier and more sustainable to truly be present with people.
- Built-up walls. Being present requires something from us and it’s vulnerable to show up fully. Often times, after experiencing pain, we build walls in reaction to protect ourselves. When we do this, we actually end up isolating ourselves too. Laying these defenses down can be scary, but it ultimately presents opportunity. Our fortified walls can be taken down brick by brick to reconstruct a beautiful pathway of connection to others.
We need people in our lives whom we can just BE with, and with whom we can also fully be our true selves with. This is one key component to how we can experience refuge in relationship. Bryan and Katie Torwalt sing these lyrics that really beautifully portray this, “Be with me, I just want you to be with me. I don’t need you to do a thing. Your love is enough.”
If you find yourself challenged by this and desiring to dig deeper, here are some questions to reflect on:
- How do I view myself and see others in my life? Do I view them and myself as gifts?
- If my presence is valuable, do I treat others as valuable?
- What type of presence am I carrying? How are others experiencing me?
- What steps can I take to being more present with those around me every day?
When we see something as worthwhile we are more likely to willingly sacrifice, right? People are worth sacrificing for. You are worth listening to, engaging intentionally in conversation, fully being present with, being known and deeply loved.
Last Fall, I went to the local farmer’s market with one of my best friends. We talked with one of the vendors for a good bit of time. Instead of moving quickly past, we engaged in conversation with him and learned so much. During that time we heard him tell a mom to capture all the moments she can with her little one because time moves quickly. What opportunity each moment holds and what a gift each moment is! Taking that time to engage with our new friend was worth it and one of the greatest gifts of that day was just being present, together.
There are experiences in life that make us keenly aware of what not to take for granted and this last year has been one of those experiences. Last year made me want to richly extract every moment with the people I’m near. Cherish time with loved ones. Treasure each conversation, connection, and life experience, even if it’s small or mundane. I believe as we begin to do this, we also begin to see how grand life can be in simplest exchanges… eye contact, smiles, waves, and certainly hugs.
Let’s show up consistently, listen actively, and engage fully with one another. All the while being loving, compassionate, and extending grace.
Edited by: Alida Cassinari, @hacassinari
Photo Credit: Unsplash, @harlimarten