Almost three years ago, a very dear friend of mine used to shake her head at me and urge “just be where you’re at.” I didn’t know then that when she urged me to “be where I am at” that she urged me toward the core of love. For love, often posed as sacrificially giving rests in a matter of the heart as well as the will and seems to linger on two very big points: presence and acceptance.
Being present means fully immersing myself in the moments of my life where I am now and the moments of those around me. It is enjoying the rain that is falling on the ground outside the house where I am babysitting. It means actually reading the messages from my friends when I’m skyping and responding first to what they say, stepping into their world, not making a commentary on or demand of their hearts. (Sometimes lessons get learned the hard way.)
It means seeing the rain in their hearts, or the sun, and rejoicing with those who rejoice, and weeping with those who weep. We don’t necessarily stay in their weather of emotions and thoughts, but if we never step into the world as far as they let us, we will never really understand. How can we sacrificially love and meet needs if we don’t see them?
Sometimes this is hard for me. I like my world and all the interesting twists and turns often sing with familiarity. I’d rather judge your weather from a window, and not step in, be it to rain or sunshine. Or, I try to push a new lesson, new words, new clouds into another’s life. I’m missing it. I’m missing that my friend might be going hungry and does not need emotional support, but help to find food. I’m missing that a different friend is graduating and just needs space and grace to adjust. I’m missing that I am pressuring myself to be better and my own emotions and reactions may need attention and maybe I just need to spend a long time talking with God, or talk with a close friend after I talk with God, not before.
I miss it all because I try to pretend and become something I’m not. I am not talking about growth, or change itself, but a pressure to have grown and have changed. To be where I am not.
If I don’t recognize that I am a finite unique human and accept that, how can I let you be one who acts and thinks differently than me? If I am not where I am at, hanging somewhere in a strange mix of Redemption and Fall, then how do I accept that we are both enough and not enough; both good, loving and kind, and selfish and wanting the world to be the way we long to demand; both feeling loved and unloved.
Maybe together we can be where we are at, on this earth, in this moment, be it struggling against sin and its effects or rejoicing in promise, or more likely a strange combination of both. God is where we are at, and where we have grown. He does not necessarily ask for our performance in the future beyond commitment, nor actually expect us to fix the people around us, but to be where He is at, with His heart that sees and fixes, hands dug into His work, standing beside Him, leaning into Him. In that point where He works in our lives, He asks us to work now, commit now.
He knows the future, and He is there too, but since we can’t get there, I wonder if being where we are at might help, even as “being here” sometimes gives space for dreaming and preparing for "there" without pressure to pretend to be somewhere else.