Present: with

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Why “present?” My reasons were specific. Moments when I felt spread too thin, moments where I was crazed, missed moments or overlooked opportunities all because I was committed to completion, efficiency, and capability. When reading Present Over Perfect by Shauna Niequist, I already mentioned in my review of the book, that despite the fact that Shauna’s specific experience is different than mine, there were many times when I still saw myself in her story. Niequist’s identity of being the “get it done girl” was one I completely related to.  I truly had to stop and remind myself that she was talking about herself, shake myself back to reality slightly, and look within myself to find why it was that this part of myself was such a critical part of how I see myself. And truly, before I even knew about her book, this fact – my identity as a “closer” – was behind all my “reasons” for selecting the word “present” for 2016. I want to be someone people can rely on, but I also want to know my calling and my limitations to do this well so that I can be with these people.

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What I find so miraculous is that even when my reasons or motives were not completely clear to me, God had begun to do a work in my heart and mind. I chose “present” in January and in the first couple of days of February I helped host an if:local in my town of Poulsbo. The event is focused on equipping and unleashing women, a calling that is sewn into my very being. I sat watching the event unfold and I was struck again with how strong the urge I had toward “present” really was.  And kept wondering what it could mean in my life, what it could mean in my ability to pursue the Lord, and to fulfill what He has been calling me to.

The event progressed and they too had each of us select a focus word, and as the gathering came to a close the words were clear. Like they had been stamped on my heart – “love well” and “with” just kept ringing in my ears and resounding in my heart. At first I was bugged. Yes I am admitting being irritated with the voice of God. Can you relate?  This was not my “word” for the year and how dare the Lord “change His mind. ” Oh Alex.

Instead I started to write, to think, to explore the connection. What I found was that “with” was my reason. It was why I had chosen “present.” I want to be with people. I want to be with the Lord. And to take it even a step further. As I sat and meditated on what the Lord was speaking to my heart; I knew that being present, truly with people and with the Lord in genuine relationship, would mean I would be loving them well.

Oh Lord.
You are good. You are patient. You are so true. And boy do I love your sense of humor.

Since February these words have become my anthem.

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I wear them, I say them, I pray them, and my desire is to live them.

What have I learned about what it means to BE “with”?
What does it mean to “love well”?
Why now?

The timing is providential. Thankfully I began exploring these two ideas early in the year and then I just keep coming back to them – they are the truest of motives in this journey. They are and need to be what I keep circling back to.

To love people well you must be present, you must be with them. It’s about BEING. And again not about doing.
I can do for people a list of things, I can meet needs but if I am not with them, if I have not been present, I am truly not loving them well. And in turn I am not loving the Lord, at least not in the way my heart longs to.

Dropping the to do list. Single tasking instead of multi tasking. Canceling the multiple things I had planned to participate in (mind you they are all good great things), pairing down. Being with people; knowing them, making space and taking time to be with them, is the greatest way I have to love them well.

Wanting to be with them is not enough. I will miss my chance, I will miss them if I don’t stop and choose to be with them. Am I a master of this? Absolutely not. This rainy weekend in February began a work in my heart and mind. Truly this “write 31 days” is part of the process and it began with these words. This series is written real time, each day in October, and includes reflections like the ones written here; but also is literally a stream of consciousness as I am experiencing it. This exploration of “present” has only revealed how poorly I practice these desires in some areas of my life, and thankfully shown a light on the areas where I have started to truly be present.

I’d love to know what areas of your life are easier for you to be fully present in, what areas are more challenging? Do you have strategies that help you be present, ways you stop doing? How are you good at Being? Where are you good at being with people and loving them well?

Philippians 1:6
“…being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.”

 

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