October is an important month in my life. It means so much to me because it was on two different October days that God blessed me with my sons. This year, on their birthdays, they will be 3 and 5 years old. They are still very young, but the years are definitely going by way too fast. As my little boys turn another year older, I am reflecting on what it means to be truly present, in my relationships with the people I love, and most importantly with the God that I love.
“You make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand.”
This verse from Psalm 16 has been in my head for the last few weeks. I keep thinking about the phrase “joy in your presence.” If I truly love someone, when I am with them, I should be joyful, right? If I love the Lord, prayer and Bible study will bring joy to my heart. In the same way, if I am spending time with my husband, or my children, those moments should also fill me with joy because of my love for them.
I spend a lot of my time thinking about God, and thinking about my children. I write about them, and talk about them, stay busy doings things for them. But am I really connected to them? In this busy mom life we can be with someone all day long, but not necessarily be present with them. Our minds are always racing to the next thing we have to do, the next errand to run, load of laundry to fold, mess to clean…and sometimes we can miss out on the joy that is right in front of us.
“As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!” “Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”
I love this passage from the gospel of Luke about two sisters and their different responses to Jesus. Both clearly loved him. Martha opened her home, and made all the preparations for the visit. It seemed like she genuinely wanted to please Jesus with her efforts. Her sister, Mary, simply sat at his feet and listened to him, enjoying His presence.
Martha was upset with her sister for not helping. But Jesus reminded her what was most important, to be with Him while she had the chance. She had become so distracted by her tasks, that she lost the joy that she could have experienced in the presence of the Savior in her own home. Jesus gently reminds her what is best.
We have a lot to do as moms, important things that need to get done. We honor God by serving our families and caring for our children and our homes. But we also need to make time to stop and enjoy the presence of the ones we love, and let them find joy in our presence. We need to sit at Jesus’ feet through reading His Word and prayer. Similarly, we need to sit with our husbands, and our children, and simply be. Here are five steps to that can help us take better advantage of the time to be fully present.
If you want time with someone in your life, put it on your schedule. That friend that you keep telling, “we should get together,” choose a day and time. If you keep thinking, “I need more time to read my Bible and pray,” set that as part of your day. We get so busy, and the hours slip away, but if something is written down on the calendar, it is much more likely to actually happen.
The next step sounds pretty simple, but can be hard to complete. Whatever you scheduled…morning quiet time with God, date night with your husband, or a day at the park with your kids, stick to the plan and show up.
This third step is by far the most difficult, at least it is for me. To be present with those we love, it is important to set aside distractions.
The most obvious distraction these days, is the phone. We have amazing technology at our fingertips. We rely on our phones for many valuable tools. They help us communicate with others and stay in touch long distance. We use them as alarms, calendars, to read news and weather, for work or school related tasks, or even for buying our groceries. I can use my Bible app to read God’s Word anywhere, and even look up meanings and notes about what I am studying. Most of my blogs are written right on my phone.
More than anything, my favorite way to use my phone is to take photos of my kids on our daily adventures. I love to make online scrapbooks. I enjoy capturing and remembering the sweet moments we share together. But sometimes, setting the phone aside and taking a mental picture is even sweeter. Kids love it when you look them in the eye. When my son talks, he wants my full attention. He will say to me, “Mommy, don’t look at your phone. Put your phone down. Don’t look at anything else, only me. Listening means looking at me.” Whoa! How did he get so wise at only four years old?! Some of our most special memories happen when even for just a few minutes, the phone is put out of sight and out of mind.
In our fast-paced culture, it seems like we are always in a rush. We try (often unsuccessfully) to beat the clock to the next activity. “Hurry up!” can feel like the most used phrase in my mom vocabulary. Getting little ones ready for the day can be exhausting before we even get out the door. It is important to teach our kids good time management and a sense of urgency. I want my sons to learn to be on time. But I also don’t want to live in a constant state of “hurry.” I want to be able to slow down, breathe, take in our surroundings, stop and smell the roses, (literally and metaphorically), and just enjoy being together.
Finally, savor the moments! Sometimes when my kids are talking to me I find myself just studying their little faces and their hazel eyes, thinking how beautiful they are to me. When they are hugging me or saying, “Mommy, I love you,” those are the moments when it feels like time stands still, and I want that feeling to last forever. For a split second, there is no other worry or care in my head, just pure joy in the warm presence of those I love so much!
And on those wonderful days when I wake up early enough, before anyone else, I get to sit with God’s Word on my lap, and maybe even a cup of coffee in my hand, and visit with Him. I read of His love, and take the time to let the words sink in and fill my heart and soul. I can bask in the presence of the one who is the source of love. And I find the joy that comes from being with Him.
This post was so difficult to write. It took longer than most because I was trying to actually practice the things I was writing about. And it is hard to do! I wrote it as a reminder to myself as much as anyone else (probably more), to take intentional steps to be more fully present. I am going to try harder to schedule time with people I care about, to show up, set aside distractions, slow down, and savor every minute. I want to experience the joy that comes with spending time in God’s presence. And I want my family to find joy in being with each other. In our most important relationships, truly the best present we can give someone, is our presence.