I sat in the middle of the church and stared at the rows of heads lining the pews in front of me. Over and over I felt this strange but simple message. Your presence is enough. We were gathered to celebrate the life of my best friend’s dad. He had suddenly and unexpectedly passed away. His death was literally as far out of left field as you can ever image. And all I could think about in this place was how it would all be better if he were just here.
His presence was the only prescription that could restore the broken hearts of the women in his life.
Pop was a pharmacist by trade, a loving husband and daddy. But he was first and foremost a servant of God. In the coming weeks story after story would roll in about the things Pop had done for others, ways he had shown up and cared for people that his family knew nothing about. He was a man of few words, quiet and strong. His legacy is stunning and his simple presence was stronger than the medicine he doled out on a daily basis.I found this old mortar and pestle at a garage sale and knew it would be a special gift for my friend.
It made me think about my presence, my time, my treasures. So often I fall victim to the lie that I am not enough, I am not a good wife or mother, I judge people closest to me and I stay away from people or situations that may hurt me. But God gave me the most beautiful, freeing thought in the midst of this funeral. He showed me that showing up is more than half the battle.The Bible tells us to be imitators of Christ. (1 Corn11:1, 1 Peter 2:21) This call to copy cat usually has me fixated on Jesus’ words or the way he handled himself in certain situations, but the truth is the first thing he does is show up. His presence is the first thing we should be looking to.
Jesus shows up at joyful events and ceremonies like the wedding feast and synagogue. Jesus spent time at his friend Peter’s house where he healed his mother (Matthew 8:14), he dined at a Pharisee’s home (Luke 7:36) and spent lots of time with his dear friends Mary, Martha and Lazarus. Like Jesus I’m all aboard for a fun dinner or celebratory event. It’s easy to show up when it’s easy.But Jesus also had dinner at Matthew’s house with sinners (Matthew 9:10), walked head first into a wind storm to comfort his friends and dare we forget his last meal nestled beside his betrayer. Would I have shown my face or called in busy?Over and over, laced throughout the gospel chapters are the following words…he went to, Jesus went, he left here and headed there, he moved, he walked and he brought himself to the people. He went looking for his disciples, he searched them out, he walked into opportunity to share and heal and love. Jesus didn’t send messengers or notes, he didn’t wait for people to come to him, even though they did in droves and he certainly didn’t cherry pick the fun events to make his rounds. He showed up. He was always where he needed to be. We haven’t even touched on his words, simply his presence.
Jesus is entrusted with all of humanity and you and I are simply entrusted with a few precious souls in our life. Our family, our friends and possibly a slightly larger circle. Even being entrusted with the hearts of my immediately family can feel suffocating. What if I teach them wrong, or don’t teach them or set a bad example or let them down or fail them or scar them in some way I never intended? Satan sees a foothold and tells me I’m right, I am not enough. Marriage, friendship, work, school, church…the harder they get the easier it is to stick your head in the sand or better yet, bail all together. The freedom God gave me as I scanned all the hairy heads in front of me was this: just being there is more than enough. Showing up every day whether I want to or not, whether I think I’m good enough or not is the first step in imitating the only perfection I will ever see or know. It’s about sacrificing what is easy and good for the love and better of someone else, taking our eyes off the mirror and seeing the needs of those entrusted to us.
If we look again to Jesus as an example his words are not confusing or in code. While agonizing in the Garden of Gethsemane he surrounds himself with those he loves and point blank asks them to show up. “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.” Matthew 26:38 This breaks my heart. Without an ounce of pride Jesus tells his friends exactly what he needs and wants. I am not so bold. And I would guess those around me, that need me, will rarely if ever ask for me so directly. So I have to take Jesus’ example again and assume that I am needed. Nothing complicated, no crafty words of wisdom, just stay and watch. My presence.
You don’t have to have the right words, the perfectly baked casserole or anything at all to offer, just be where you are supposed to be and God will take care of the rest. On the days I remember this I give myself some slack on loosing my cool with the kids, I go to events I would honestly rather not and I bite my tongue and just listen to my husband instead of feeling the need to fill the air with my opinion. Just a hug, just ears, just my presence is enough and yours is too. There is freedom when expectations are extinguished. I wish I remembered this more days than not.
Our days are numbered. There will be a time when we can’t show up anymore, it’s this certainty that presses the importance of today into pointed decisions. A lifetime of showing up will be medicine that remedies the woes of life and heals the pain of death. Jesus tells us he will never leave us, which I find so peaceful and reassuring. He is the only one we should and can fully put our trust in. However, we have the option of creating a life that will leave it’s mark as well. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age. Matthew 28:20
Is there a place or person you’ve been avoiding? A relationship that you have separated from because it seemed easier? Do you get anxious about your performance in certain situations? Are you thinking of your feelings more than the loved ones around you by chance? My prayer for you today is that God will give you the same freedom he has shown me and let you know you are needed and enough in the midst of your imperfect mess. Where can you be the salve to someone’s soul today?
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