I grew up without a sense of presence in my family, without feeling like I was known or seen or heard. Home wasn’t really a safe place. My family loved each other, but everyone was broken in their own way. It wasn’t anyone’s fault. It was just what it was. We were like 5 people living in a house alone, each living their own isolated life.
So as a child, I learned to be invisible. I spent a lot of time daydreaming, reading, and by myself. Through those things I learned to escape the reality around me.
When I was around 7, God surprised me. After being discounted yet again, I heard God speak to my heart. I heard God say, not to worry, that it was God who was raising me. I don’t know how I knew it was God’s voice at that tender age, but I did. I just knew. I was flooded with a sense of peace and comfort I didn’t quite understand. I knew God had me. I wasn’t alone. God was raising me. In those moments I felt the tangibleness of presence. I felt so loved, so known, so seen. I knew I mattered. It was unlike anything I had ever known. Presence saved me. I still remember what that presence felt like as a child and as a teen. It didn’t take way any of the heartbreak but that sense of God’s nearness to me changed my life.
Throughout my growing up years God provided presence to me through many dear people who God brought at just the right time. People who saw me, heard me, and loved me. So many dear saints from the church I grew up in, who I will forever be grateful for. People who included me and made me feel like I mattered. My heart is so full of love and gratitude to them.
Over the years, God has provided other people who have been gifts of presence to me, including my beloved husband and kids, treasured friends, and spiritual directors. There is nothing like someone listening deeply to your heart from their heart, holding your story with a sense of sacredness. I have been blessed by priceless people who have done that for me and it has genuinely changed my life and infused me with life.
No wonder presence means so much to me. In Luke 12:48 it says, “To whom much is given, much is required.” I have been so deeply blessed through God’s presence and the presence of those I hold most dear. As a result my life has become about offering the gift of presence to those who need to know they matter, to those who need their story held with a sense of sacredness, who need to know they are seen, heard and loved. It is a life call, because it is a life gift. And so the gift of presence comes full circle.