Most of us have given or received great presents through the years that we hoped would prove to another how much we loved them, or make us happy upon receiving them. Deep down, most of us knew better.
But today, I want to encourage you to think about giving a different kind of presence that makes a difference in people’s lives. Your presence.
My thoughts are on the people, maybe even you, who feel a sadness this season no matter how many people are in the room, or how many Christmas carols you sing or how many Christmas movies you watch.
Many people experience great sadness during the season of joyful expectations. And for good reason. You are not alone.
This sadness may come from having a loved one to die in the past year, or standing around the bedside of a loved one who is very ill. Others of you have gone through broken relationships that magnifies the emptiness you feel. Or you may just have unexplainable sadness. No matter.
I want to suggest you give at least one of these gifts of presence in the next year:
1. Pick up the phone and call someone you love. Tell them why you love them in detail.
2. Write a note of thanks to one person who has impacted your life positively. Be specific.
3. Mark on your smartphone calendar the day that your friend’s family member died. Call them on that same day in 2012. You won’t be reminding them of their grief, you will be reminding them they are not alone.
4. Get in the car when you hear about the serious illness or death of a friend or family member. Show up. Don’t worry about what to say, just tell them you want to be with them as soon as you heard.
5. Write down the wedding anniversary or birthday of someone who is no longer with us, and talk to the one who is grieving that event they used to celebrate.
You get the picture. Show up with your presence.
That’s what God did for you and me in the form of a baby. God showed up on earth and was present with us in the newborn skin of a baby. God promised we would never be alone because of this divine presence.
By offering our presence to a person who is sad or hurting, it may be one of the most accurate ways we mirror what God has done, and is doing, in a world filled with pain.
Showing up in the flesh. This is what we are called to do for one another.
And this kind of presence lasts.