I am a classic over-thinker. I over plan. I contemplate words. I analyze, strategize and kibbutz about stuff.
Sometimes I make things way too difficult. I search for the perfect words or the right approach. I contemplate every word of a conversation – even rehearsing in the car (yup, that’s me on I-94 southbound talking to myself).
Sometimes I struggle with what to do. Do I hug? Hold a hand? Purchase an expensive gift? Do I avoid someone? Do I even have a deep enough relationship with someone to be needed in a moment of crisis or despair? Who am I to step forward to lend support?
Or some times I delay action and conversation because I don’t know what to say. I stumble awkwardly or avoid connection so that I don’t hurt someone’s feelings or make a situation worse.
See…here I am…totally over-thinking, over-analyzing, over-everything…when all I need to be is…there.
I was recently taught about the Ministry of Presence. As I pondered this Christian concept, I realized that it was hugely applicable to a lot more than my religion.
The ministry of presence basically teaches that sharing our faith is as simple as being present and caring for someone else in very simple ways. It’s a basic approach that teaches us that we don’t need to actively instruct, influence or share our faith in order to minister to others. We can simply be present.
For a classic over-thinker, this idea of presence, and nothing more, is staggering. How do I do that? How is my simple presence enough?
Stepping back, it’s easy to see how living with presence can have huge impact in all of our relationships. Whether we are sharing a TV show with our spouse or hanging out with our kids, if we do it with presence and an open heart, we accomplish something.
Some times, all our loved ones need is our heartbeat in the same room. Some times, all we need is another person to share a movie we’ve seen 100 times or a friend to h
old our hand when we’re worried or afraid.
Some times, no words need be said, no gifts need to be given, no profound idea needs to be shared. Some times, all we need is to know that we’re not alone.
In our lives with funeral directors, we often have sparse time with our spouses. We can meet at the end of a hectic day and wonder if our failing energy is enough to keep the spark between us. It is in these moments that presence is enough.
Maybe you just sit on the couch together while one person reads a magazine and the other watches TV. Perhaps you share the kitchen while one person does dishes and the other works on a hobby at the table. Or maybe you just take a drive, run an errand or otherwise inhabit the same space…even without words.
You see, being present together is extremely important for the strength of our personal connections. This is why going along on a call or sipping coffee together for two minutes has so much strength!
When I tell funeral directors that the time they give their spouse is more important (and wanted) than the fancy vacation or expensive dinner, they laugh. But then I mention that it’s not really the outcome or experience that means something, it’s the choice.
When a person chooses to spend time with you, you know you are loved. It doesn’t matter what that time involves or includes, it’s just the gesture of choosing YOU for that moment.
Our kids respond to this too. Rather than over-scheduling our little mini-mes, we should be finding time to be together, unscripted and unplanned. Sometimes, our kids just want us. Time. Attention. Our heartbeats in the same room.
When I turn off the noise, open up my heart and BE with my kids, I am always amazed by the conversations that happen. Burning questions tumble out of their mouths. Unique ideas and viewpoints are shared. I get to know them better and have opportunities to parent that can’t be bought by more practice time, scripted sit-downs and schedules.
Next time you feel like maybe you should find a way to support or connect with someone, consider the Ministry of Presence. Bring your heartbeat to the room, be present and Be.
It is enough.