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Practicing Presence in a Busy World | by Kate Merrick

What is one thing we have in common with our sisters? We come from all backgrounds, all skin colors. We spend our days differently; working inside and outside the home. Whether from Maine or Maui, we, the sisterhood, are diverse and varying and distinctly different. But one thing we have in common: we are busy.

Like really busy. So busy we find ourselves in a tizzy half the time. We can’t seem to find time to settle our minds. To sit with Jesus. To look our people in the eye and say meaningful things. We can’t seem to find the time for self-care. For creativity. For relationships or facing our feelings or promoting peace. We can’t seem to find the time for our people, our talents, for discovering what God has put in us and allowing that to flourish. And so, we wither.

I have news for you: we were made for more. We don’t have to ride the crazy train, just because everyone else is. We don’t have to hand over our peace, our relationships, our well-being in the name of connectivity and productivity. Rather, we need to practice the most beautiful, most meaningful things in life.

We need to practice presence.

Several years ago, while seeking experimental treatment for my 8-year-old daughter at a cancer clinic in Israel, I got a crash course in practicing presence. There’s nothing like a death sentence to inspire one to reassess her life. As we were planning to move our family to the Holy Land and needed a change, my husband and I examined our lives – the way we spent our time and attention – and we got ruthless. Social media was the first to go. Next, like ripping a Bandaid off a wound, we decided to leave our iPhones behind. We traveled to the Holy Land in search of a cure for cancer, but instead found a cure for distraction, for busy. We received a new way to live – a lifestyle of Sabbath.

The practice of a different way of thinking along with some newfound habits ushered our family into peace in the midst of chaos, deeper with Jesus and each other. Those habits allowed us to experience joy in the pain, to really live, rather than be swept along in the tide of modern life. The habits were life-giving, valuable, but like any other habit, if we don’t put them into practice, they do us no good.

We must practice presence like our lives depend on it.

I realize not all of us are planning to go off the grid and move to the Holy Land, but here are a few practical ways to be intentional in our practice of presence, ushering some peace into our crazy:

  • Daily time with Jesus. For best results, eliminate distractions. Put your phone in another room, bind and gag your kids!
  • Digital detox. Free yourself from your technology addition. I have a resource on my website you can print that walks you through a week of digital detox with prayers, verses, and some sisterly encouragement.
  • Focal activities. This includes bread making, art, walking, etc. Something you put your mind and body to that doesn’t have instant gratification. This is when a lot of listening happens.
  • Media diet. Consume wisely. No one gets to her deathbed and wishes she spent more time online.
  • Own social media so it doesn’t own you. Choose when and how long you invest in it. Unfollow. Take care before you post. Chuck it if it’s stealing your joy.
  • Play! Use your body, it’s a gift.
  • Opt out, unsubscribe, say no whenever possible. You can’t do it all, nor should you.
  • Go outside. God made it, He’s there! Romans 1:20 says we can see what God is like through what He has made.
  • Journal. Be alone with your thoughts, acknowledge them and sit with them. Then give them over to God.
  • Be creative. God is creator and we are his image bearers. Whether it’s rows of numbers or watercolor or organizing or cooking, everyone is some version of creative.

This is enough to get you started, and as we practice it will become second nature. Lean into your own precious life, sisters. It’s time to flourish.

. . .

Kate Merrick is the co-founder of Reality, a family of churches, that stretches from London, England, to Honolulu, Hawaii. She also is the author of two books including And Still She Laughs, and most recently, Here, Now. She loves spurring women on to lean into real life, love people, love Jesus, and laugh as often as possible. When she’s not writing, speaking, or #slayingmotherhood, you can find her at the beach, in the garden, or making delicious messes in the kitchen. Kate lives in Carpinteria, California, with two kids, one husband, nine chickens, two goats, and two miniature donkeys.

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