Understanding Presence

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If words carry the weight of intention and illumination, presence breaks the sound barrier.


Not long ago I had to undergo some surgeries. The doctors wanted to see if they could improve my hearing with repair to my ear canal. The recovery was unbelievably slow. My sister came to stay with me for both surgeries. She accepted no arguments. I didn’t even know she was there, really, or that my niece had tag-teamed with her for a few days. The two surgeries, both failures, occupied an entire year of my life. How deeply I needed the warm touch of friends. How much I needed to know all was going to be right again.

I think it was this experience that has heightened my awareness of presence. Following that experience, I’ve not been able to know someone was in the hospital, having a baby or a health setback, without just showing up.

I’m reminded of the way my aunt and cousin drove 400 miles to be with my family when my Dad passed. Time and again, they have quietly set aside their own lives to be.there. No fanfare. They’re just standing in the doorway every time something major in my life occurs. Over and over and over again. And every single time I think to myself, “They get this. They understand presence.”

We have such ability to change the atmosphere when we enter a room. The Godhead lives inside of us. Wherever we go, we have that choice to usher in love and goodness, kindness and laughter; or we can scowl and bring judgment, create schisms and cliques. I choose love.

I want to be that person. I want to be a person whose presence carries the weight of Heaven, the gentleness of “I get you.” And, “I can’t solve it, but I’m here.”


A Grace Trajectory

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Monkey bars. Do you remember them? They sort of beg you to hang upside down and look at the world from a different viewpoint, don’t they? It’s a structure so you’re either on the monkey bars or you’re not. You are either willing to climb and stretch and twirl. Or you’re not. And it’s okay, really. There’s always the teeter totter that will knock your chin into next week, if you like that sort of thing.

But, really. We’re all grown-ups here. And this is still the playground. And you can either see London, France and Stinky’s underpants, or not.


The big decisions come as little ones. Actually. They masquerade as, “So whaddya think?” And your answer to “Whaddya think?” sets the whole trajectory of your life. Or, at the very least, it exposes what is in your heart.

As a Christian I have at my fingertips the concept of Grace. And Christians are wildly prone to apply grace to themselves but be really super stingy when it comes to other people. We just do this. I don’t know where we learned it. And I’m really grossed out by that, and apologize. Yeah.

Grace, we’ll happily recite to you is unmerited favor. Awesome. Let’s throw a few Christianese jargon-y words in there so you can’t be on the team, once again. We’re still in Junior High apparently and picking teams, and if you know the words and how to use them then you’ll be picked to be on the team. Good grief. What a recollection. I hated Junior High and being the last one to be picked. Late bloomer. Whatever. I’ll need counseling after this.

Using other words I’d say that grace is about open-heartedness. It’s about giving the benefit of the doubt without requiring a person to change, without requiring that they give me, or anyone, all the precise details about In the first place.

That’s God’s nature. Actually. If we want to connect with Him in authentic relationship, that’s really how He rolls. Is it because He’s really artistic and does the broad stroke and misses detail? No. It’s because of His Son. And love. You know, love makes us all do really crazy things. And that’s what God is like. It doesn’t really matter where you’ve been or what this is all about. It’s about relationship.

Copeland produced a song called Brightest, and the lyrics are like this:

If you find yourself here on my side of town
I’d pray that you’d come to my door
Talk to me like you don’t know what we ever fought about …

To me, that’s what love looks like. Love just can’t figure out a reason to fight anymore. Like a surfer yields to the next wave, you lean into the equity of what you have together and just drop it. You let it all go, and yield to the covenants that you share with one another, whether its a lifelong commitment between best friends, or it’s a couple, or even siblings. It’s the best picture that I have for the way Father God is with us. Instead of looking at the mess, He just nods quietly and looks over at His Son. He sent His Son for our messes. Christ died the most gruesome death. But there was a purpose, so that Father could gaze at us, eye to eye. So that we could connect with Him. Father and Son. Father and Daughter.

Watch for real Love. Wait for it. Don’t accept the counterfeit. Because real love lets you be you.





Letting The Bully Win

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Middle School … what do you remember? Anything? Or have you blocked it for trauma?

I can’t speak for the boys, but in middle school social circles there was one girl that was always the ring leader. There were always cliques – small clusters of girls who tittered about exclusive topics. Oh Lord, could a girl be more nerdy than I was? I didn’t wear glasses but I certainly had a mouthful of braces and I didn’t stretch out until college, so all through high school I was a chunky, awkward girl. I think it was mostly because I was a reader, a day-dreamer, and one didn’t always know what I was thinking. I was exceedingly poor at interacting with the boys … not much has changed there, though I’ve worked in a male-dominated industry for more years than I care to admit!

(I think the phrase “Cave Girl” came up in conversation with the guys at work today. Yep it really did.)

Anyway, I left the ridicule behind and the girls and I went on to become quite good friends. Lately though, I’m going through a situation that reminds me so much of middle school.

Truth be known I’m 44 years old – not 12 – so imagine my complete and utter dismay at realizing I’m being bullied … by a Christian.

Why do people stoop to bullying behavior? It’s usually because they feel threatened. But if we as Christians cannot show the world the kindness and unconditional love that is supposed to emanate from our lives, are we not defrauding the world? Aren’t we a walking betrayal of Christ’s death? Um, yes. In watching this gal I realize that I’m not alone. More than one person has been driven from her midst because of snarky words and behavior. Now. You know I’m not above snarky, especially when it’s funny. All you have to do is swing over to my Twitter account! But snarky at personal expense is an altogether different matter. To put it nicely that takes, ahem, chutzpah.

I don’t have this figured out. I’m actually reeling from it. I don’t get why I don’t fit in, why I’m not worthy of that good old fashioned friendship that I’ve sown into people’s lives for the past forty years. Sure, maybe people think I’m no fun or can’t take a joke … but that doesn’t mean it’s true. The things that people think about you are not your reality. But, honestly, bullying takes its toll. And then you just have to leave. You don’t win over a bully. She wins.

Yep, Darlin’, you win.

The one thing I know is that there are people out there who like me — real people who want to be my friends. I can’t let my heart become bitter with my losses. The incredibly beautiful city in which I live, the amazing people who continue to adore me, the new friends who embrace me … these fill my life with goodness while I release the things that have caused far too many tears.

I’m exhaling goodness as I round this corner. I hope you are too!