Who can sit by themselves today in silence and not reach for their phone or the remote or computer? Who can exist at peace with themselves and their life? Who is content to just be in God’s presence today when everything around us is saying: “Escape!” or “Hide!” or “Forget the hard stuff!”
Is this the road to fulfilling our lives? To happiness? Do we just have to shop until we drop, getting more and more stuff until we are fully stuffed with stuff and can’t feel the downsides or the upsides of our existence?
The one thing missing from our culture’s “shopping list” is presence. If we are with another person, can we set aside our own agendas, put away our phones and just be with the person wherever he or she is? If we are alone, can we just be with ourselves, our thoughts and emotions? Can we get to know what is the content of our lives and how we feel about it? Do we know what the trajectory of our lives are?
If we are spiritually minded or religious, can we just sit in God’s presence, aware of His Indwelling Spirit and what it is offering to us in the way of wisdom right now for our life?
The ability to be present is the difference between those who are content in themselves vs. those who are running from their lives. It is the quality of being in the present moment as opposed to living in the past or future. Present to the beauty of the earth as we walk or drive. Present to the wind or rain or snow. Present to other people. Present to your loved ones. Present to God. Actually alive in this moment and the next… That is presence.
In this culture we seek the wrong things, thinking that materialism will bring us happiness. If I just have enough money, if I just have the right clothes and the right things or live in the right neighborhood, if I can just know the right people… None of these goals will bring any kind of peace or fulfillment. It’s only in the giving of oneself, some talent or gift or quality that is totally natural to us, that we find joy and peace and love. These gifts cannot be manufactured out of nothing. Peace and joy and love come out of really knowing ourselves and the talents and gifts that we were created with and then sharing them with other people. Peace and joy and love come out of knowing God and listening to His plans for our lives which are attuned to the way each of us was created to be. The sooner we align ourselves with our created selves, with God, the happier, more fulfilled we will be.
Peace and joy and love come from the healing of all our pain and suffering and then helping others in the same boat to be healed. Like the ex-alcoholic who supports other addicts through AA. Or the veteran who suffered from PTSD who works with other veterans. The parent of a disabled child who supports others in the same boat. The ones who reach out to those who are helpless. Who are interested in how a person got the way they are. The one who comforts the grieving, feeds the hungry, supports those who need support, visits the prisoner. It takes a willingness to let God heal our suffering while we commit to that healing.
To be present means that we are interested in our surroundings, in God’s creation, in who we are, in the other person before us. It means we are engaged in life itself, alive with an aliveness that only increases as we stay present. It means that we are fully alive to what is going on around us. And that we live in the plan that God has for our life.
I don’t think the distractions of the phone and games and tv and shopping and all the other addictions available to us are going away anytime soon. In fact, their use seems to be increasing. But, if we want to live in peace and love and joy, we will choose to listen more and more to our deeper selves, more and more to what God is showing us and calling us to. There is a wonder-filled, at peace, with joy existence waiting for us, if we would only turn to the true source of everything.
Questions to ponder over the week: Can I be present to my own self? To others? To the beauty of the earth? To God? What stands in my way of being present to life itself? Is there fear or resentment or greed or something else that stands in my way of embracing life?
Blessing for the week: May we be the people of God who are present to God, to life itself, to ourselves and others. May we take in what or who is before us and acknowledge their value. May we be love in the world.
I have a second website, deepeningyourfaith.com, up and running! Check it out!
I am collecting conversion stories. If you’d like to share yours, I would love to read it. I’m not sure yet what the Lord has in mind for them, but in the meantime I am collecting a bunch. I will only use your initials if they are published.