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It isn’t easy being present.

Sure, you can show up. For what it’s worth, that is half the battle.

But, once you’re there…then what?  How are we present within the situation?

Here are some ideas:

  1. Don’t have an agenda
  2. Be aware of your own anxiety
  3. Strive to be a Non-Anxious Presence

These are things I learned while taking part in CPE (Clinical Pastoral Education). I’ve been reminded of these three things over the last 9 years in the pastorate.

How many times do we walk into a situation with an agenda?

Almost every time.

We want to see our kids succeed. Wewant to see them throw the perfect spiral, catch the perfect lob, field the perfect ball… you get the idea. We want Our kids to act a certain way, at certain times, under certain circumstances.

But, guess what. They are kids. It doesn’t always work out as planned.

So, if we really want to be present with them; then we leave our agenda at the door. We focus solely upon them. We want to play their game, not get them to play ours.  There is a time and place for that; just not all the time.

Aware of my own anxiety…What?!

Yeah, exactly,

I hate to break it to you; but you’re full of it… I mean, Anxiety!  It is also known as Worry.

We worry about our kids performance, and all sorts of things.

You know what I’ve found out about my Anxiety?  I’m horribly selfish about it. Yes, I want my kids to succeed, but there is an insidious monster underneath. It can raise it’s head at the worse of times. Like, when I’m preaching and my eldest gets away from his handlers; bolting to the platform.

It is terribly embarrassing.

You see, to many times our anxiety concerning our kids has a lot to do with how they make us look.

Does it make us look like poor parents? Does it make us look like pushovers? Does it make us look bad.

Our anxiety is also related to our comfort level. If we feel uncomfortable with a situation, then our anxiety level rises. To often we want to change the situation to make us feel comfortable; include the situation with our children.

We need to let go of that. Our comfort isn’t always what’s most important.

Of course the key is to be aware of our anxiety level. If we aren’t aware of it, then it can control us. All it takes is for us to take a step back from the situation and do a little bit of reflection. It won’t take more than a second. That one moment, stepping back, can keep us from making horrible mistakes.

Lastly, what does it mean to be a Non-Anxious Presence?

Basically, we are talking about being calm in the midst of the storm. When I worked in ER as a chaplain, I many times felt like the eye of a hurricane. Often, I would walk into a sitting area, the families are climbing up the wall. I would introduce myself, and just start listening. I would be still, empathetic, give direct eye contact, every now and then asking a clarifying question.

Be calm.

Be there.

Don’t be distracted.

Things would soon begin to calm down in reaction to my own non-anxious presence.

We have to remember, our kids learn more by what’s “caught” than what’s “taught.” They will do what we do, they will react the way we react, they will be our own little “mini-me.”

We have to exert a little bit of self-control. We choose to act, and not to react. We are the adults. We are the mature ones. We have much more power than our children do.

Let’s act like it.

Would you have anything to add to the list to help us be more present with our families?