How to Be Present


Non-presence. It is an epidemic. Sometimes I wonder if being present in a particular moment is even possible. So many thoughts and tasks, ideas and ideals, and cares and concerns pull me away. I am constantly greatly tempted to check email or Facebook or Instagram in the middle of a conversation with someone, while driving, and when I’m trying to enjoy being outside. Why is this? Why am I so distractible and tempted out of the moment? I don’t know why. All I I know is that when I’m not present, I am less grateful, notice less beauty, and feel less peace. When I’m not present, I’m not loving the people in my life well because I’m only giving them a shadow of myself, not my whole self. When I’m not present, I am unlikely to encounter God.

I started doing a couple things this week essentially by accident, but they have really helped me to be more present:

     1.     On my drive to work, I give myself permission to run through all the thoughts that come into my brain. Instead of fighting them off or distracting them with music, which is what I usually do, I let them in and process them. When something I need to do comes to mind, I dictate a note about it into my phone and then move on.

    2.     As I approach people to meet or speak with them, I pray first. Just a simple prayer: “Father, help me be present. Let me see you here.” Realizing God’s presence in every encounter has made each moment alive, full, and surprising.

There are obvious things to do to remain present, like not checking my phone during conversations with people or when I’m seeking time with God. But I need more and so far these two things have been working.

How do you stay present?

Are there things you could do that would help?

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Author of: Sacred Questions: A Transformative Journey Through the Bible and Holy Vulnerability: Spiritual Practices for the Broken, Ashamed, Anxious, and Afraid Follower of Jesus. Mom. Wife. Friend. Lawyer. Pastor. Writer. Scholar. Reader.

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