I was reminded last Sunday (thanks Mike) that being with someone is maybe the biggest thing we can ever do for someone. So when a friend and colleague lost his sister last week these words rang in my head. It’s not like I didn’t have a ton of work to do (work I’m taking a break from right now as I write these words). And it’s certainly not as if I was even emotionally ready to tackle another funeral. My own aunt’s funeral had just been the day before, still leaving me a bit emotional and raw as the gentle proceedings went on before me. But, the truth that friendship and love means being present was ringing in my ears, so I packed up my emotion and went. I’m not saying this to toot my own horn. Let me be honest and say, I went a bit begrudgingly. But when my sweet friend hugged my neck and thanked me for being there, I knew the choice was right and so worth it, regardless of the fact that I had just wept through the song “It is Well”.
But as I got ready on Wednesday morning, what came to mind was all the times people were or were not present for me. And what struck me is this: During my life’s biggest tragedies I can recall 2 things pretty perfectly, the people who were there, and the people who wanted something from me in moments when I felt I had nothing to give.
Let me explain. So far, thankfully, life has been short on big tragedies, and frankly most of them happening in 2014. And also thankfully, even my biggest tragedies are NOTHING really in the scheme of personal pain and loss others have had to endure. But here are some biggies in my life that really stand out. On my son’s one week birthday we checked into the hospital for a whole week. He spent the entirety of week two of his little life in the ER at Cook Children’s. We thought he may loose his eye. That was a draining fog of a week. I was recovering, nursing, taking care of my baby, and I had an almost 4yr old at home. What I remember vividly is this: 1. The few people who were just there (and sadly, it was few), the ones who came and prayed and held my hand and cried. The ones who brought us meals and took care of our daughter so we could be at the hospital. 2. The people who contacted me because something they needed from me wasn’t getting done. Those moments stick out so vividly, because you are so empty your just surviving, and you know you will be able to give again soon, but not now, now you just need understanding.
The same is true of last year (or today is it officially 2 years ago? I don’t know…) In June we had found ourselves dealing with a small private family tragedy that few people knew of. Then my nephew and brother in law died in August (It was about 2-3 weeks of absent fog for me). And in November our house caught fire. 2 and a half weeks in a temporary house (it took 2 weeks just to get our clothes back), then moving to a rental, regular meetings with contractors and permit people over the next 6 months. And again, what I remember are those who were there, and those who wanted me to do more, be more, give more, and I couldn’t.
All this reminded me on Wednesday morning, that I’m not very good at just being present either. We are so busy, so driven, so self concerned, that we think of us and forget that sometimes we just need to stop and BE with someone. So that is my resolution. I really do hope my year isn’t filled with hospital visits and funerals. I hope it can be filled with going to see new babies, weddings, and lunches. But whatever it is, I pray that this year, I can be better at just being present. Because after all, we just celebrated the coming of Immanuel, a Savior, with us. I pray I don’t forget that too quickly.
3 thoughts on “The Gift of Being Present”
These are beautiful sentiments Chantal and so well written.
Is there any positive reminders you can share? Sorry to hear about all the bad stuff
Oh of course there are, but this blog was all about the the presence or lack there of of people during life’s most difficult times. Presence (like those who prayed with me, helped and encouraged) during life’s joys are easy. This blog was about being present when it’s hard instead of letting our own selfishness get in the way.