Just Be Present
Over the summer, Pastor Eric and his family were able to enjoy an eight-week sabbatical. In this two-part series, he reflects on two truths he learned during his sabbatical. In these posts, Pastor Eric invites you to consider how his experience might apply to your life as well. You can read part 1 here.
Just Be Present
A year ago, our oldest child started Kindergarten. It was the week before school. He had new shoes, sharp pencils, an unopened box of crayons and a smile streaking across his face. He couldn’t wait for school. He was ready. But as parents, we weren’t there yet.
My wife and I were sitting outside on our porch and we were talking about school and how the last six years have flown by. The night grew late. We couldn’t believe it… our baby is now a kindergartener. As we were talking about school, my wife started crying. Trying to understand, I asked some questions I thought would reassure a nervous mom:
Is it about riding the bus? No.
Is it because you don’t know his teacher? No.
Is it something about a public school? No.
What is it? Through tears she said, I’m gonna miss my buddy. We won’t be together.
I heard her words, but I didn’t get it. I knew Krista and Haddon shared a special bond that only a mother and child could have. She stayed home for the last six years. They have been together every day and for countless hours throughout the night. For the last six years, they have been inseparable and have done life together. Now, this was changing.
This summer, our elders gave me and my family a sabbatical. I was given the gift of eight weeks away from work. One of my goals during this time was to be present with my family. For eight weeks, from May 20 – July 15, I was surrounded by my family 24/7. This was life-giving.
Being present is the best present you can give the people you care about most.
Don’t underestimate the power of presence.
Somehow, we’ve bought the lie that “quality time” can replace “quantity time”. This is not true. It has to be both. Quality time is purposed and planned. Quantity time is casual and ordinary. The best relationships happen through both quality and quantity time.
My sabbatical was life-giving because it offered the gift of time. Time is the scarcest and most precious resource we have. As a family, our time was unhurried and undistracted. The days were long. I had the luxury unlike ever before of being home and not preoccupied with a long list of to-dos that were competing for my energy and attention. For the first time ever, I was experiencing what my wife has come to love as a stay at home mom.
I like to work. I find a lot of fulfillment in work. I am motivated by work. I love my job. Yet being home with my wife and children is the best job I’ve ever had. I’m lucky my kids are five and seven and still want to be with me. I know someday this will change. But for now, I will soak up every second I have with them.
Love is manifested through time and presence. We went swimming, camping, hiking, biking and fishing. We were in a sandcastle contest and built a crocodile. We went to the movies and explored the zoo. We ate s’mores and watched fireworks.
Being present changed my relationships. I’ve seen it.
When sabbatical ended, I was standing in the driveway hesitating going back to work. Our time had come to an end and I knew life was going to be different. This season was over. It’s time to leave. It’s time to go back to work. Now I was the one who was crying. When I say "crying, I mean ugly crying. If I had words, I would have said, I’m gonna miss my family. We won’t be together. I get it. I understand what it’s like to be present.
The people in your life don't expect you to be perfect, they just want you to be present. Being present is a choice to say “yes” to the people in your life. Don’t take this for granted. Don't wait until tomorrow. These are the relationships that matter most. Just be present.