Presents or Presence?

Written Christmas 2015

In 2015 I made a trip to the San Jose area to visit family and friends. Arriving to pick up the promised checks for work I had done, they apologized profusely for the misunderstanding in having mailed the checks earlier. Having no credit cards, I had to navigate that week with another small amount they did give me.

I left Auburn, just missing my one Christmas present, an incredible edible arrangement, courtesy of a friend. But what a delight it was with family and friends! Sunday, at the singles group, with whom I have a decade-old connection, a spontaneous offering was collected in appreciation for my website work. I was stunned by this unexpected display of giving! Needless to say, I made it through the week and arrived home to the awaiting promised checks and was able to pay bills, etc.

What occurs to me today is this: being in a condition of NOT being able to give gifts, I realized I had given the best gift, my PRESENCE! And they reciprocated with their presence. And Jesus gave HIS presence! It is the greatest gift one can bestow. Someone once said, “The best things are not things!”

It is difficult, though possible, to extricate ourselves from the expectations of people, tradition and the magnet of marketing. What people most want is an authentic listening ear. When you give them your presence, give them your ear, more than your voice.

The best present we can offer is our emotionally healthy spirituality. Can you begin to show up with, as someone described, “…nothing to hide, lose or prove”? That will be the best version of your presence.

Sometimes our PRESENCE becomes the bargaining chip for acceptance. There is nothing we should have to do or give, other than ourselves, to be God’s best gift to others. Then, authentic giving WILL follow authentic living!

So, let’s GIVE ourselves to God anew this season. Then let’s let Him GIVE us back to each other: humbled, grateful, speechless. Perhaps then pure joy will erupt from our innermost being!

2022 UPDATE:

I’ve now been happily married for almost seven years. We moved from the chaos of California to the niceties of North Carolina. And amid the covid crisis and inflation, we were still able to purchase a delightful townhouse and drive a paid-off almost new car. My wife now has a three-novel contract and I am flooded with work!

Living in the presense of love and acceptance is the greatest gift. It provides the wrapping for the undeserved temporal blessings betowed by the Grace of God.

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