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Life's Little Lessons

"If you ask me what I came into this life to do, I will tell you: I came to live out loud." – Emile Zola

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presence

The Power of Presence

The other night I was sick, as in violently ill. I’m pretty confident I had food poisoning, but whatever. I am better now so it doesn’t matter, but what does is this:

Most times when I am sick *read ALL times* I just want to be left alone. I just want my tired and worn body to heave intermittently and sporadically on its own, without an audience. Because who really needs to see all that and really, what can anyone do? If I am going to suffer, I don’t want it being a show.

The ticket booth is closed for business.

But this dog. This dog took a front row seat and actually bought out the house. She held diligent watch over me all night long. Each time I got up from my bed and hightailed it to the bathroom, she quickly paced behind me and laid on the floor with me. The Golden Retriever on the other hand, didn’t move. She was like “Godspeed woman. Get well so you can feed me in the morning.”

Asshole.

The point is, I was shown the power of presence. It’s what I call withness. Just being WITH someone wherever they are at, whatever they are in. It’s the place where you don’t need someone to FIX you or SAY anything magical or fluffy. You just need them to BE, right where you are at.

This dog was God in fur form. It’s an odd likening but it’s what I believe because I know His ways are not mine and I don’t always have to have it or Him all figured out. I just need to accept that is how He works. He shows up in tangible ways I’d understand or accept in the moment and says, “Hey. I’m here. You are not alone. No matter what you are going through right now, I’m present and I am with you.

So if someday you find yourself on the floor withering in pain or in a puddle of your own tears, He will be there for you too. It’s what He does and who He is. He might show up and look like someone you’d least expect, but it is His good nature to always be present.

And if like me, you needed a reminder of His faithfulness, this is it.

letting go to move on

I have some of the best conversations between God and myself when I am driving. My vehicle wanders from one location to the next and my mind often wanders with it. It’s during these times, I have some of the most thought-proking of thoughts and as a writer, I love to process by putting words down on paper. HOWEVER, since I am driving, writing is an impossibility so I find myself trying really hard to capture each word and replay conversations in my head so not to lose a single syllable, but a lot of times…they are lost.

I begin to think about getting home, do I need to stop and buy milk? Who has what going on tonight? The memory of the conversation may pop back into my head and it is there I wonder if the words will formulate again into something in me, but even words have a way of digging their hook into my skin. As a writer, I have had to learn to hold even my words loosely in my hands so they could be free.

So I could be.

Just yesterday I sat at my desk writing and I was sure I saved it, but I got up to drive and came home and it was gone. I scaveneged every area on my computer and finally came to conclusion, what I had just poured myself into was unsalvageable. I could try to weed through all the boxes in my head and heart and possibly recreate another version, but it would not be the same. When I try to go back to what was, I lose authenticity by creating what is only a copy. No matter how GOOD a thought that translated itself into words in my head was, I do not want to tirelessly sift and sort trying to caption a glimpse of what I had. It is never the same.

I know I am using writing as an example, but this really speaks to so much more…

We cannot go back. We cannot return to something that we once had or did and recreate it. It won’t be the same no matter how we fool ourselves into thinking it could be. We cannot revisit an ideal time in life and live in easier moments or bliss-filled days. We cannot go back to relationships or the way things used to be in them and ask them to remain forever etched in stone without change. Yes, life is much like the thoughts I have. Good ones come and good ones go, but most of them were just to be had in the moment, treasured and then released. They are merely opportunities that allow a seed, be it a word or a moment or a person, to be planted deep within you…

And once planted and deeply rooted, it can never be taken away or forgotten. It doesn’t need to be contained in some alabaster jar and placed on some mantle as a prize…

Breaking it open and allowing its contents to pour out unfractured is hard for if we hold our jar too tightly, the pressure from our grasp inadvertently cracks its contents. We find ourselves discouraged and weary from relentlessly trying to recreate and then incredibly disappointment when our expectation is not met. I need to let my words go, I need to let conversations just be conversations instead of thinking I need to scoop them all up in my net and box them up neatly in my storehouse. I need, because I WANT, to be present in the moment. And each moment only comes once…

Once.

Letting go to move on is as necessary as breathing and life has much breath in it.

Inhale deeply. Exhale the same. 

My Cell Phone is Ruining My Life…Longing for a Simplier Me.

There are eight adults in the waiting room. All on their phone, myself included, except two.

One is resting his head back against the wall and has his eyes closed. The other has her face in a book and is continually turning pages. I want to say “What the hell is happening to us, folks?” but I don’t. I sit and I long. I miss the days where I didn’t have to look up to acknowledge someone’s presence. I miss the days where leaning my head against the wall and closing my eyes was an option. I miss having my face in a good book while my hands turns its pages. I miss sitting, watching particles float through through the air while my heads empties into it.

I miss striking up a conversation with people, skin and flesh people…

My awareness that this device in my hands is continuously contending for my attention tries to make me feel powerless and controlled. Numb. I start to think it’s at fault but I know better. I AM. Anything can be used to keep me from being present and aware of my surroundings and the people in it; the wall my head rest against, closing my eyes in order to breathe, holding a book up to my face, staring blankly into the air.

Anything can be used as a respite from reality, the question is “WHY am I wanting a break from it?”

It would be easy and convenient to place blame; to say the PHONE made me do it, that this phone has made me obedient to every notification like some dog who does tricks on command. To say the PHONE made me zone out instead of simply watching the air and the people who breath it. That would all seem unfair because it has given me the illusion of productivity therefore necessity because I now have everything and everyone at my fingertips which just means more done and more connection, right? Then why am I left with a dull, nagging pain? Sometimes I’m less connected with real people and more concerned about the the cyber-laced layers of their shadows and the knowledge of that alone gnaws at my gut. It would be easy to…

But I am not powerless…

And I have been challenged. With every challenge comes an opportunity to tarry along unscathed or to dig deep and make a change. This cannot be MY new norm.

Technology is not my contention. Learning how to powerfully choose and guard…is.

On To The Next

The pounding of my feet can barely be heard over the continuous humming of the treadmill. I appreciate knowing that right now, the gym is an option and at the same time, loathe it. I am using it as an excuse to not run outside and I know it. I was made to run outside and I can feel myself wanting to hurry my time along to get done. The humming continues and I look down.

.67     .69     .75

3 miles is going to feel like FOREVER if I keep watching the distance tracker roll another number by.

.89

F-O-R-E-V-E-R.

Give me a cloud to look at or a conversation with a running partner to occupy my mind. Anything. I liken running on the treadmill to watching the grass grow or paint dry. The more I WATCH, the more IMPATIENT I become with WAITING. I have never been much of a WAITER.

The TV above my head is on. I watch it to distract myself. It’s the news. I’d rather watch the numbers scroll by…

.95    1.4    1.7

Good God.

Perhaps what I do in my job aides in my feeling the need to hurry. We own a transportation company so it is my job to make quick decisions and respond in a way that problem solves on the spot. I easily find myself getting into the habit of “On To The Next” where I continuously move from one person to the next, one circumstance to the next since there is seldom time to waste. Perhaps that too is an excuse and rushing through is just some bad habit that I need to seriously break. Either way, I am purposefully positioning myself to practice presence so I can fully BE in the moment, even if it is on the torturous treadmill with its slow rhythmic hum.

One thing that has become glaringly obvious to me over time is that when I HURRY, most of my mistakes are made when I do so. I react instead of taking the time to rightly respond. I make decisions that necessarily didn’t have to be made quite as quickly because I want a fix like 10 minutes ago. The sad reality is that HOW I’ve responded has created most of the issues I’ve encountered in life.

But here is the thing:

Most things, if given time, will work themselves out.

Most things, if given time, reveal what is best, needed and true.

If given time.

Hands off. Eyes off. This is sometimes best.

Walking away for a bit and creating space allows things to grow and dry. Space can aide in the cultivation of a soil that can reap a richer harvest, hosting stronger roots. Time surely can be a friend if eyes are taken off of what is the perceived issue and placed on what perhaps is the REAL one.

WHAT am I responding to?

WHY am I responding?

WHEN is the best time for me to respond?

WHO am I?

In the past, I’ve thought that the person in front of me or the issue at hand has been THE issue but it seldom has been. I have been. My response always reveals MY identity, WHO I am and really has little or nothing to do with anyone or anything else. It is my desire this year to intentionally think before I respond so I reveal my identity, which at the end of the day reveals HIS. Once I remember WHO I am, I rightly know who/what I’m responding to and if it needs addressed at that particular time or even at all. I’m tired of going around and jumping in quickly to put out every fire I see. I cannot hurry to fix it all by wearing some heroic badge on the scene of every accident, even if it is my job in real life. When I slow myself down and live out Proverbs 4:23 which says, “Above ALL else, guard your heart for everything you do flows from it” I rightly respond and can trust my heart without regrets. When I take the time to KNOW and BE KNOWN and not hurry life by, I live fully by Faith, in Hope and am Love. Perhaps there is more all to it but I don’t think so.

So friends, pay attention but not too close. Outsides things tend to be a distraction from rightly guarding your inside territory and your heart is too valuable not to guard. Practice going slower and allowing your heart to be searched so that you know WHAT, WHY, WHEN and WHO you are responding to. Guarding is KEY. It takes INTENTIONALITY so you will have to lose your flippant attitude if you have one. Hurrying happens when you step down from your post and make decisions outside of your identity so stand firm. The world around you needs you to remain diligent.

On to the next will come soon enough but start what you finish…

And enjoy what you started.

 

 

 

 

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