“Earth to My Wife? Come in, Wife”
Ever get that feeling the person in front of you is there-but-not-there?
I’m totally guilty of this. My husband’s trying to tell me something and then I hear, “...but you’re not paying attention, so ...” Oops. I’m too often multitasking. And it might even be for his sake, but still, I’m not present in the moment he cares about. I might make the right gestures or expressions or noises, but I’m actually being a little duplicitous.
As a culture, we don’t do presence well.
What stands in the way? It’s usually psychological noise of some kind:
- our own agendas and desires (to feel valuable or heard; to have control, approval, security).
- our distraction (by fatigue, multi-tasking schedules, our own keenly felt needs and hunger for care).
- our tendency to lapse into what’s comfortable for us rather than what the other person needs.
Unfortunately, it results in emotional hunger all around us. Because presence is a precious form of love. Presence is taking out my mental earbuds so whoever’s in front of me gets 100% of my mental pie graph (or at least a good 98%).
I think of the God who wasn’t content with never being seen, never touching, with a lack of nitty-gritty engagement: “The Word became flesh and blood, and moved into the neighborhood” (John 1:14, MSG).
Sometimes this means asking our spouses for answers we may already know. God models this for me. I think of Him in the Garden of Eden: Where are you?
I believe God asks questions not for information. He’s asking to connect. To welcome. To allow expression. Desire. Interpretation. Co-journeying.
We can ask questions like, What was that like? What were you hoping for?
We can make a distinctive effort to forsake putting onwith our spouse: I need to be a good spouse. I want to talk about what’s important to me. Gotta make sure we talk about this.
Take a beat to put down whatever’s in your brain’s hands (or your real ones). Right there, endeavor to fully receive your spouse. To act as Jesus to them, our God-in-the-Mess, who came fully into our world.
Be all there.
The good stuff: Let love be genuine. (Romans 12:9)
Action points: Which of the bullet points above are most likely to sap your presence from your spouse? Ask God to tap you on the shoulder when you’re not fully present with your spouse (or other people).
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