Presents vs. Presence

Happy Christmas Harry. 

That has literally zero impact on the post but I love those movies and it’s the right time of year. You’re welcome.

Depending on your age and potentially your love language, presents mean different things than they used to. As a kid, it was all about the presents. That’s what we celebrated and, in many cases, still celebrate. 

I’m the worst about presents. I want to open everything, it brings me so much joy to unwrap something. Almost as much joy as whatever is inside. My family knows that about me and often times I get things wrapped in shoe boxes that have no business being wrapped. Presents mean something to me. But presence also means something to me. As I’ve grown the second word means much more to me than the box and gift inside. Being with the ones I love is the real gift. 2019 started with a fair amount of loss and heartache. Hana and I both lost a granddad. It was hard and it hurt. But beauty was birthed from those experiences. I cherish life in a different way. I make decisions differently and treat situations with more urgency. Being present is an area that I have chosen to focus on.  

Christmas is a time when the word present gets used the most. I think this year calls for the alternative use of the word present. I want to be present. I want to be totally there, wherever there is. So, how do we become more present? 

For me, it always starts with intentionality. The holidays are undoubtedly the busiest time of year. We are going constantly and our “break” from work doesn’t really feel like rest. I struggle with being intentional with my time and how I’m making time for God. It doesn’t have to be a lot but it does have to happen. I can’t be present like I want with others if I don’t first have the presence of God with me. 

Psalm 16:11 says “…you will fill me with joy in your presence…” We need to be filled with joy before we can spread it. Presence is more than just occupying space. It’s how you are perceived and how people feel when they are around you. Do you leave people feeling refreshed or exhausted? Your presence has to be intentional or there’s a chance it won’t be welcome. When I take a few minutes to either read scripture or listen to some uplifting music or pray, I literally feel better. The joy that comes from spending time with Him is different, it is refreshing. It changes us and makes us more delightful to be around. This time of year, when we are running the fastest, but spending the most time with others, take some time, frequently, to be refreshed. To be filled with pure joy. Give yourself permission to do that. You’ll thank yourself and those around you will thank you, too. 

From now until the end of the year, I am going to offer a reminder every day to stop and refuel. It won’t be much more than a simple reminder to slow down so you can be fully present with those you are with. So you can spread joy.

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