In American culture the season that stretches from mid-November through the end of December can seem a bit like a runaway freight train. High speed. High energy. And, if not carefully controlled, highly destructive in its intensity.
There is so much to do – celebrations with friends and families, the giving of expressions of love to those we care for, reflecting on God’s goodness. Good things. Things that touch our deep desires to love and be loved, for relationship and connection.
But one of the biggest challenges of the holiday season can be being present enough to enjoy it.
Being fully present may be the biggest gift you have to offer yourself and others these next few weeks. Being fully present creates space for relationships to grow and deepen. Being fully present leaves room for life-giving connections that energize, encourage and leave a sense of peace and rest rather than frustrated exertion.
Being present requires intentionality. It’s not something you’re likely to stumble into. To really be present for another we must be in touch with our own heart, aware of our own feelings before a conversation begins. Presence is the capacity to show up, and be there for someone without invoking an off the cuff response in the midst of another person’s story. Bring present means truly listening and staying with another person’s story.
One way to know you are not present for another is if find yourself silently recalling details – or planning shopping lists, eek! - and ruminating on your own similar experience before the person even stops speaking.
Presence allows space for silence.
Warm, open presence plays a key factor in providing emotional support to another. Staying present also requires quieting our sometimes habitual, often verbal reactions to problems, including our desire to avoid our own feelings or attempt to “fix” the feelings of others.
As you begin to ramp up with holiday activities these next few weeks, consider taking a few minutes to ask the Lord what He would have you do to create space for being more fully present to Him, to yourself and to others this season.