Sunday, February 19, 2012

The Gift of Presence

The numerous ways we have to connect in today's society make me sort of sad. I think it would be nice to go back in time when the means of communicating were face-to-face. I know, I know you are probably freaking out right now trying to picture a life where you can't instantly attach your ear to a cell phone and your daily stream of web information, chatting, tweeting, etc...comes screeching to a halt. Seriously though, how do you form relationships with people when you've lost the personal face-to-face where the rubber meets the road?

In today's world, you can conduct almost all of your business without ever leaving the comfort of your home. No contact with a human being is even necessary. You can do your banking, grocery shop, pay bills, buy clothes and household needs, read a book or watch a movie all through the internet. Some people even do their jobs from home.

With all this cool, high-tech means of doing business and communicating, I think we have paid a price. The gift of interacting with one another. The gift of a person's presence. Even when we are face-to-face, it is hurried and we don't give each other ample attention. We have so many ways to communicate today, but we don't really communicate well at all. We don't engage one another. We don't take time for each other.

Did you know that communication  is only 7% of what you say.  55% is body language and 38% is tone of voice, volume, etc...that's lost if it is not in person. Then there is the listening part. It's not effective if it's not heard. How many times in a conversation have you found your mind wandering off to another topic or thinking about what you are going to say next?

We have to be present with one another if we want to successfully share in each others lives. We are called to do so. The Bible tells us in 1 Thessalonians 5:11 to "encourage one another and build one another up". Romans 12:10 says to "love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor."

There are many references to loving one another and being there for one another as Galatians 6:2  tells us to "bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ". 1 Peter 4:9 says we are to "show hospitality to one another without grumbling" and Ephesians 4:1-3 says to "walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace". I think we have fallen short.

God shared with us. He shared His only Son so we could all share eternity with Him. You may know well the words in John 3:16, "for God so loved the world, that He sent His only son, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life".  I am so glad He had a hand's on, personal approach with us.

Jesus walked this earth.. Jesus took time with people. He gave the gift of his presence to everyone He came in contact with. We have the perfect role model.

We need to be better at being present with one another, better at communicating, better at listening, and better at giving of ourselves.

I did a little experiment a while back to the "Hi, how are you greeting'" so many of us call out in passing. When someone asked "Hi how are you", I said I was having a hard day. The reply, "that's great, see you later". We don't listen to one another. I really was having a hard day that day. I know she did not mean what she said, but she said it. it was a hurried greeting in passing.. Not taking time and not being truly present came off as cold and uncaring.

I made a vow to myself that very moment I would not ask how someone was and walk away.. I will stop and listen. This means I may get off course for the day I had planned. It may take a little more time. It may get messy with problems someone is facing. It may be hard to see what they are going through. It could be painful and I may not have the right words, but I know one thing for sure. It will mean being present with them and I think that is what God intends. I think it means being obedient. I think it means being God's hands and feet to people.

I challenge you to make time for people!

I challenge you to give the gift of yourself!

God did!

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