Every year, I make a lot of well-intentioned resolutions designed to correct all that ails me. They’re probably very similar to yours and typically include more of some things (exercise, scripture study), and less of others (sweets, criticism). This year, however, I have a new plan of attack.
I’m just going to show up.
The idea began when my father died. I really noticed who showed up. Not in that snarky “I’m really noticing who didn’t show up” way, but in an appreciative, authentic way. I discovered that the most important words of comfort usually start with “I’ll be there” when my best friend drove from Eugene, Oregon, to my dad’s house a state away to help me pack it up with no notice, leaving her own family (and job).
Lots of things are nice and meaningful. Cards are nice. Texts are nice. Facebook messages are nice. Phone calls are nice. But I have come to believe that nothing trumps physical presence.
You would think that in our digital world we would be past that, yet I think the reverse is true. As it becomes easier and easier to send messages of condolence and congratulations (no stamp required!), actually showing up becomes more and more of a statement.
In a world of seemingly infinite possibilities and promise, one of the few finite things is time. That’s what makes yours so valuable and so much of a gift. If I invite you to something and you come, you have given me a priceless gift that no one else can. I’ll just go ahead and thank you in advance for showing up for me this year. You’ve already shown up to read this, and I thank you.
So this year, I’m going to show up. I’m going to show up for friends, and I’m going to show up for myself. Early morning exercise? I’ll be there. At work? I’m on a one-day contract (idea from Rick Pitino’s book of the same name). Something going on in your life? I’ll appear, probably with my semi-famous homemade mac and cheese.
I would like to extend this invitation to you as well. When you hear about something, show up. Friend having a hard day? Stop by with dinner or a frappuccino or a hug. Neighbor with a lot of leaves in the yard? Rake ’em. I know you have a lot on your own plate, yet I have come to believe that the only kind of life worth living is the kind in which we show up for each other.
If someone’s too far away to share your physical presence with them, do the next best thing you can think of. That can take many forms. My suggestion? Follow the platinum rule: do unto others as they would have done to them. Maybe their care currency is a book (I’m projecting), or maybe it’s food.
I remember over twenty years ago when Joni Hilton showed up at my house with a basket of goodies including the Little Golden Book Doctor Dan the Bandage Man when I was incapacitated from
morning all-day-and-night sickness. It had real band-aids in it! I haven’t seen Joni in two decades, but I still remember that she showed up.
Perhaps send the treasure that is a handwritten note. Can we please resurrect that art?
As a mom, the best thing anyone can do for me is show kindness to my children, even though they are adults. So show your friends’ kids some love – even the grown-up ones.
Here is my awesome neighbor showing up to help my son rake leaves the other day while I was caring for another son who’d just had his wisdom teeth taken out. Thank you, awesome neighbor!
So feel free to invite me to anything from your kid’s soccer game to a wedding. I’ll show up if I can. If I can’t, it’s probably because I’m showing up for someone else. Or myself. Either way, I’ll be there. Every day. All year. Showing up. Join me?