I recently finished a month and a half long ministry service to a young adult ministry with some folks I’d known for over 15 years. When I’d first accepted the position, I was shocked, honored, and nervous. I was shocked because I was older than most who applied to serve in the ministry. I was honored because I found out I would be working alongside one of my former mentors in Music Ministry and I had a great deal of admiration for her dedication and love of the young adult ministry. Finally, I was nervous because I had never been put in a leadership role such as this, and I knew that many eyes would be watching me… judging me. Despite the fact that I have been directing and leading more than 30 employees in the public sector, it was quite a different story to try and do that with my church ministry. It is one thing to earn the respect of my employees, but a different ball game when charged with spiritual formation, guidance, and encouragement for younger people in faith.
Throughout the eight week process, I had learned that not all people are as they seem. The woman I’d admired for so many years and considered a sister ended up treating me as much much less than that. She sadly didn’t even treat me as the friend she once was in years past. I felt like a stranger on some days. I still admired her dedication to our ministry, but I had become saddened and disappointed in what I discovered about her style of spiritual leadership.
When I completed my service, I told the board of directors that I would be stepping away from the ministry until my spirit and heart healed. The emotional scars left behind were and still are deep, but I know time and prayer will heal them. I spoke with a couple friends who witnessed all the hurt I’d experienced, and they did the best they could to give me advice and console me. The one line that stood out was from a new friend I made working in the ministry. It was our first time working together ever, and we became instant and lifelong friends. When I was feeling worthless, unloved and betrayed by the very ones who I thought were friends, Valerie, my new sister in faith, said, “But at least you are here, and that makes you awesome enough.” She summed up in one statement what took several weeks to crush, and she built up my faith again. The reason I came to the ministry was because I believed in its spirit and what it could do for young people. My willingness and desire to serve are something that some lack in the ministry, but I chose to give of myself, and by giving of myself I was giving to something bigger than myself. It was in that giving that made me awesome. Valerie recognized that in me, and she reminded me of that.
I bring this up because of the season. Easter is this Sunday, March 27th, and the holiday in itself speaks of hope, new life, and mercy that is unmatched by anyone here on Earth. We were loved so much by God that He gave us His only Son to bring us BACK to life in Him. You see, no matter if we accepted this special gift or even recognized it for its magnitude, the fact that this act of unconditional love was done because HE chose to show up among us is awesome and more than awesome enough. He gave us the gift of His presence, and continues to do so by living in, within, and among us in others. How awesome is the gift of someone’s presence? I’ve felt so much better by just having a friend or two, or even family, show up at my door when I am feeling down. Even a simple phone call from a long missed friend brightens my day. Presence is a gift because it means taking time and making the effort to be there. It is a sign of LOVE for someone else, especially when your presence is received well and you are fully present to the moment and the person you are with.
In a Holistic Nursing Practice article, (for access to articles see http://journals.lww.com/hnpjournal/Abstract/2016/01000/Presence__A_Step_Closer_to_Spiritual_Care_in.8.aspx) the gift of presence as part of spiritual care among nurses tending to the complete care or recovery of patients is of the utmost importance. Simply being there with someone who is ill, injured, or simply in need as part of an overall approach to healing has done wonders compared to those who were only cared for physically, or solely on an emotional or psychological level. Being PRESENT and here for someone takes care of the physical, psychological, emotional, and even spiritual needs of someone in a care facility. How much more in our daily lives?
I feel truly blessed to have learned this lesson of my awesomeness by my simple act of being present and here for others. Regardless of whether or not someone acknowledges or appreciates it is beside the point. My gift of presence is gift enough, and that is awesome.
How have you given the gift of presence? How awesome have you been today? Comment in the space provided.
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Happy Easter to all!