A couple of weeks ago, I was asked to speak on "The Five Love Languages." If you are not familiar with this, it is defined by Dr. Gary Chapman in his book of the same name as the different ways people give and receive love from one another. This includes all people, whether your partner, your kids or your friends and other family members. Each one of us carries with us a primary love language that when spoken to us by another person, enhances the relationship in ways we perhaps could never imagine.
These languages are words of affirmation, quality time, receiving gifts, acts of service, and physical touch. Now, you may be wondering what this all has to do the the gift of presence. The fact is that each of these five languages really involves the gift of presence. It is most obvious that in order to feed someone through their love language, you need to give the gift of yourself first and foremost. And once you learn someone else's love language, your presence is required to meet and fill their "emotional love tank," as Dr. Chapman calls it.
But what about the gift of presence all by itself? What does it mean to give of yourself to others who are in need?
When our Interim Senior Pastor was with us a few years ago, he spent a year with me helping me to learn the sacred art of listening. It was a critical part of my pastoral care learning process. It is a critical part of the gift of your presence with others. Your presence, in and of itself, will speak volumes to the other person. Words are often not needed. And when they are needed, by having listened to the other person, to whom you have given the gift of your presence, you will know how to respond.
This pandemic has thrown a monkey wrench into the physically present aspect of this gift. It has challenged us to look to other means of communicating our presence and our willingness to be there for all others. But it has also given us the opportunity to realize, where many of us did not before, that this is a life affirming and, I will venture to say, a life saving gesture and gift for many people who would have otherwise emotionally perished had we not found a means to be present for them in their times of need.
If Jesus can say, "I am with you always until the end of the world," then we can surely give of ourselves to others throughout our lives. The gift of presence is a silent gift It's a gift you may not even know you are giving, but you are...every time you are just there with someone in whatever manner touches their heart. Don't be afraid of the silence. It is the best gift you can ever give!
"The gift of presence,
Speaks volumes to those you give,
Your bright light thus shines."