I have been on my phone much less this year than in previous years. I'm still not where I want to be with it, but its better. Just the other day I was able to wrestle with all three of my children and it was a blast. And yes I won. We have played games together, went on adventures together, and ate many meals around our table. One of the best things I was able to do to practice being present with my family was to take a ministry sabbatical for 2 weeks. I'm grateful to my leadership for granting that for me. I would say that my sabbatical, actually allowed me to be more present in every area, even ministry. We have been able to travel and see family this summer and we still have two weddings to attend and then the Thanksgiving and Christmas Holidays coming up. Leah and I have taken more time for dates and spending time in conversation at home in a short "kid-free" time.
Leah and I have made some sacrifices to spend time with our friends. We have been on couple dates, make our time at church with friends intentional. We even had the opportunity to go with another couple to a Matchbox 20 concert out of town. I have taken more time to visit with my friends here in town. I still need to work on checking in on my friends that live in other places. My problem is that I have always been good with acquaintances, but friends have been hard for me. If anything that this word of the year has taught me it is that I need to work on my end of friendships. I have a few really good friends here in town and in previous places I have lived that hasn't always been the case. The great thing is that, the friends I did make in previous places are still good friends of mine.
I have made some really intentional moves in my life to be more present in my community. In past years I have coached my kids sports and that may have been the extent of my involvement. Right now I am on the board of my Homeowner's Association, teaching at a local ministry that helps men with addiction, and I'm on the board of my boys' school's PTO. I really appreciate the opportunities that have presented themselves this year. One other community involvement that is not new this year, but a continuation is leading my boys' den in cub scouts. This has been rewarding for the boys in our den and been rewarding for me as well.
This has never been really a problem for me. Being present in my ministry seemed to always take precedent over the other areas of my life. One thing I learned in this is that too much presence in one area will not leave room to be present in other areas. Also, being too present in my ministry can easily lead to false narratives about me (I'm controlling, not trusting) and could lead to a reliance on me as the minister where others won't stand up and serve. What has been interesting about this year and being intentional about being present is that there have been several things that I intentionally tried to join or lead at my church and through some crazy circumstances my presence was either denied or changed. At first I could not have seen this as an answer to my prayer for this word in my life, but now I see its fruit. Sometimes being present means being present in prayer and not in person.
There are several months to go with this word. However, if the year ended now I feel that I have grown so much and learned so many things about being present. God has already blessed me in my pursuit of presence and taught me much needed lessons. I am looking forward to the remaining months and what God has to offer.